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Fall Term 1996 
Volume IV, Number 3 




The Courant 



The Courant Editors 



Editors-in-Chief 
Caroline Whitbeck 
Kate Zangrilli 



Senior Poetry Editor 


Chief Fiction Editor 


Hillary Dresser 


Ida Higgins 


Poetry Editors 


Fiction Editors 


Charlie Finch 


Anne Bourneuf 


Julia Magnus 


Keeva McLeod 


Will Glass 

TV ill VJlaoj 


In Mil I 1 a hii tv~l a 

J Lillet vJdiaUUIUd 


Maureen Chun 


Michelle Kalas 


Managing Editor 


Photo Editor 


Kieran Fitzgerald 


Shivani Reddy 


Art Editors 


Chapbook Editors 


Adam Tober 


Katharine Gilbert 


Laurie Kindred 


Eva Lane 


Submissions 


Publicity- 


Rachel Rotman 


Jess Hellman 


Promotion 


Distribution 


Priya Motaparthy 


Lindsay McCarthy 



Layout & Design 
Erik Limpaecher 



Faculty Advisor 
Craig Thorn IV 



Volume IV, Number 3 



Fall Term 1996 



Contents 



Cover Illustration 

Mozhan Navabi 



Introduction: A Dark Light 8 

Craig Thorn 

My Attempt to Understand Dreams 

and the Devil as Memories 18 

Nathan Littlefield 

The Problem With Writing 20 

Charlie Finch 

<Illustration> 21 

Poem 22 

Caroline Whitbeck 

Using Force 25 

Caitlin Berrigan 

The Palm Leaf 26 

Christina Richardson 

"The impression of. . ." 27 

Erica Fruiterman 

That Cycle of Leaves 28 

Christina Richardson 



<Illustrations> 29 

Kate Nesin 

Elegy 34 

Distance 35 

"The waves are large and brackish. . ." 36 

Charlie Finch 

Grafnne 37 

Katherine Gilbert 

Glimpse of a Man Across the Room 38 

Christina Richardson 

<Illustration> 39 

Nick Wilson 

A Condition 40 

Nathan Littlefield 

An Afterword on the Afterwards 49 

Kate Zangrilli 

Summer 53 

Kate Nesin 

"I could smell Winter last night. . ." 55 

Derek Neathery 

<Illustration> 57 

Shivani Reddy 



"'Scusc Mc" 58 

Amy O'Neal 

<Illustrations> 59 

Alice Lewis 

Our Perfect Hell 61 

Miriam Berger 

Black Friday 63 

Kate Zangrilli 

<Illustration> 64 

Four Walls 65 

Caroline Whitbeck 

Crowned With Pink Compact 67 

Caitlin Berrigan 

33rd Street 68 

9 Years 69 

Caitlin Mulhern 

Temporary 70 

Caroline Whitbeck 

Heavenly Bodies 72 

Anne Borneuf 



Graduation: Hurling Through the Rite of Passage 75 

Caitlin Berrigan 



A Travelling Man: Elijah McCoy 77 

A Travelling Man: Hey Mister 79 

Mary Ziegler 

<Illustration> 81 

Caitlin Berrigan 

Sequential 82 

Will Glass 

Portrait of the Wilderness 85 

Kim Ballard 

Dancing Blindfolded 86 

Andrea Campbell 

Whirl 87 

Julia Magnus 

Soul Clap Its Hands and Sing 88 

Katharine Gilbert 

The Watch tower Man 89 

Chris Meserole 

<Illustration> 90 

Palizado 91 

Kate Nesin 

<Illustration> 93 

Orion Montoya 



Redemption 94 

Sara Bright 

<Illustration> 95 

Kim Ballard 

The Ringleader 96 

Number 24 97 

Nathan Hetherington 

Mr. Crane's Refrigerators 99 

Nathan Littlefield 

Snapshots of the Past 105 

Kim Ballard 

Bottlecaps 114 

Bluegrass 115 

Kate Zangrilli 

<Illustration> 131 

Kate Nesin 

"Sitting on the angle adjacent to him. . ." 132 

Erica Fruitman 

Moth 133 

Caitlin Berrigan 



<Illustration> 

Caroline Whitbeck 



134 



The Photo Shoot 
Caitlin Berrigan 



135 



Light Film 137 

Kate Nesin 

Fallout, Shelter, Suture 139 

Caroline Whitbeck 

<Illustration> 143 

Shivani Reddy 



Introduction: 
A Dark Light 



O Sleepless as the river under thee, 
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod, 
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend 
And of the curveship lend a myth to God. 

from "To Brooklyn Bridge" 
Hart Crane 

In a magazine that continues to expand its horizons as the 
number and kind of writers continue to amaze, choosing an out- 
standing submission for the Smitty Prize borders on the arbitrary. 
We are tempted this time around to present the prize to the maga- 
zine itself, particularly for the wonderully playful combinations that 
Caroline Whitbeck and Kate Zangrilli have brought to our atten- 
tion in The Courant's spring '96 order of events. 

Consider, for instance, the poems that frame the spring term's 
collection. Kelly Sherman's "Not Really" dissects the deep reluc- 
tance in generosity, even the latent selfishness of it. 

We might give you all we've got 

and still suck air — cold — up through our nostrils. 

We might truly think we love you, 

but not really. 

In "Thank You and to a Prettier Poem," Erik Jungbacker's 
adopted persona does give all he has and happily admits that it may 
not be much. But it is still everything he has to offer. 

Thank you, thank you — you know if I had a larger 
vocabulary 

you'd get a prettier poem, 



8 



but something tells me you aren't searching for 
eloquence. 

when you breath so so quietly I have imagined what 
your chest is feeling 
mmm... I tell myself 
Thank you 

Mini-collections of poetry and fiction at the beginning of 
the volume presage the whimsical ways the works illuminate one 
another. Kim Ballard's "Escalator" enjoys the same precision of a 
Stephen Crane poem that Sara Bright's "Red Moon" does. In the 
first, the simple event of a child running up the down escalator 
resonates in the care for detail. 

the top is not the place to go. 
(especially if it's the wrong direction) . 
so down she comes, 
backwards, 

watching what she's leaving get smaller. 

before she had hardly moved and yet she had sprinted, 
two steps at a time and only a foot maybe, 
maybe five. 

it's not the thing to do. 

she agrees 

and turns around 

to face things she hasn't seen yet 

and watches them get bigger. 

In "Red Moon," we are climbing again, this time to the top 
of Bright Mountain (a deliberate play on Sara's part?). Again, the 
detail resonates precisely because it is relentless: 

Up that perilous 
Road 

With the deep ruts 
I've been stuck in. 



9 



The darkness enveloped us 
On that dirt path which 
Wound up the mountain 
Through the woods. 

Finally reaching it and 

Looking out over the 

Whole town, lit up like a field of stars; 

We were closer to 

Being Gods 

Than ever before. 

It took one hell of a rain 

To bring us down. 

The "it" is the red moon Bright and her companion have 
made out of the beacon light atop a radio antenna. That modest 
detail informs the restrained irony of the whole poem. The few po- 
ems in between these two study the same subject through different 
bands of the human prism. Heath Cabot's "The Wake" is a poem of 
dread, a waking into darkness, not light. Chris Diamond's villanelle, 
"Travelers," ends with modest echo of Frost's "Stopping by Woods": 

Where silence guides is where the darkness glows, 
Far off at journey's bitter end, some day. 
The longest road is sinuous and slow 
I wish there were an easy way to go. 

Zangrilli and WTiitbeck put Jake Berman's "The Lights of 
Alamosa" next to these two as if to create a conversation. In a kind 
of wilderness, Berman's observer finds strength in the lights of a 
not-so-distant city: 

But distant the lights 

The band of lights, white, orange, and a few flashing 
red 

The lights of Alamosa 



10 



But more, much more 



A picture, a glimpse, a vignette of humanity, 
A vision of another world, 
The lights of tomorrow, 

The next journey beyond, 
The next leg, 

The future, the past, all things distant. 

How easily words match thoughts, 
How uneasy they fit to feelings, 
It was so clear then 

A moment, a bright hand in a wild darkness 
Reached and clutched me and shook me, 
Shook me until my chemistry was perfect and my heart 
pounding, 

Then shaken, the glowing lights flowed into me, 
The moment held me prisoner, 
And I fell captive to the present. 

The lights measure the boundary between what we might 
call the abstract absolute and the here and now, and for Berman the 
boundary is liberating: "I balanced on a huge beam,/without hesi- 
tation, free,/I knew just where I was, though I had not been there/ 
before." The balance is not an answer so much as an endless echo 
between inscrutable nature and the lights thrust upward from the 
city: 

The magic was there, 

Truth and triviality, right or not, 

Questions answered effectively 

Answered from mountains 
Canyons 



11 



Valleys 
Sand 
Sage 
Lights 

After B right's "Red Moon," we are literally transported to 
the heavens where we hear heavenly voices at once colloquial and 
abstract. Yaqub Prowell's "Earth Song" and Ted Dewitt's "Heaven 
and Infinity" both offer us voices in unusual contexts. The celestial 
voice in "Earth Song" uses Prowell as a medium. Dewitt's voices are 
at the border between life and death. 

With this dramatic introduction to the volume, we are aware 
of metaphysics in subsequent selections partly because there are sinu- 
ous strands weaving them together. A story about one brother re- 
membering another, "Death is a Star" by Tristan Roberts follows 
Dewitt. "Heather," a story about sister switching roles from needy 
to needed follows "Death is a Star." After Julia Galaburda's "Heather," 
we have her story about the family pet, "Rocket," which precedes 
"The Falling Sickness," Eva Mayer's powerful vignette about an 
epileptic dog and preternaturally patient sister. 

While there are many other delights in the arrangement of 
the volume — the wonderul tributes to Bernell Downer, Sean Casey, 
and Heath Cabot, for instance — the early set of poems and stories 
establishes the tone for the collection, a tone that is fully realized in 
the poems of Nathan Littlefield and Charlie Finch. Littlefield's poem, 
"My Attempt to Understand Demons and the Devil as Memories" 
is deceptive in its simple stream of consciousness. What seems to 
start as a poem about childhood fears evolves into a musing on our 
attempts to make a universe, complete with good and evil, simply 
because the terror of its immensity is lessened when we make it 
ours. Littlefield approaches this subject through the prism of 
memory. Yet his memories are so elemental as to thrust him back 
into a permanent present. 

Expression may be 



12 



My earliest memory of life 
A feeling or a need to stand 
That is so simple to convey 
When looking back to then 
There is no sardonic laugh 
At its straightforwardness 
Only a wonderment about it 
Or whether it continues now 

Littlefield is discussing nascent language. When we stand 
and express ourselves as infants, we are naming the world. To name 
our parents is to acknowledge for the first time the presence of a 
world independent of our own consciousness even as we make that 
world a direct product of our own consciousness. In this memory, 
free of irony, of self-consciousness, Littlefield describes the essence 
of modernism, the first and perhaps last pure act of creation in ev- 
ery human life, the Adamic naming of things. 

At the end of the poem, we see the romantic will to recreate 
that initial act of creation, this time by reversing the act: starting 
with the object and seeking out its origin. 

Everything reflects life 
When reduced to simplicity 
Those dreams spin now 
The expression of a need 
Want of a devil 
Creation of an unbelieved hell 
Poeish in execution 
With something else 
Eventually connecting it to life 
Attempts to distill being 
Into understandable units 

Or the belief that an ocean is better understood 
As a billion buckets of saltwater. 

Unfortunately, we cannot reduce things to simplicity. The 



13 



dreams and memories are no longer acts without irony, but the new, 
awful expression of need qualified by an acute awareness. How lib- 
erating it is then to see Littlefield leaven the malice in the universe 
with the childlike simplicity of an ocean not as the vast wasteland 
or swirling vortex of Poe, our most troubled American romanticist, 
but as a child's extension of a beach toy, the delightfully intrusive 
"billion buckets" amounting to better belief. 

Two short works by Mozhan Navabi and Maureen Chun 
punctuate the conversation between Littlefield and Finch. In 
"Where" by Navabi, the noise surrounding our own troubles is stilled 
by the silence of the forest. It is a bitter pill once again in the spirit 
of Stephen Crane: 

Impulsive, piquant, the roots of clouds... 
dreams & music share ascension 

Tell me, forest 

Of profession I hear much 

Of education I hear much 

Of love, and despair, happiness and anxiety; 

what of you? 

Our relationship to our own self-importance is literally 
turned upside down three times: once with the image that the 
branches are the roots of heaven, again with the contrast between 
our projections of ourselves against the tree's essence, and once more 
in the suggestion that we are merely interlopers in a private conver- 
sation between poet and forest. 

Chun's poem is still quieter, the faintest suggestion of a per- 
son implied in a scarf that really only exists as the slightest stroke 
adding to the broad strokes nature makes removed from the eye by 
window and street. 

Through the window, across the street — 
Briefly — when the snow is falling heavily, 



14 



Heavily, the surface of the houses, 
The trees, your sand-colored scarf, 
moves in a current of pure white strokes 

All of this leads to Charlie Finch's implosive etudes. In "The 
Problem with Writing," Finch is in full sardonic bloom, thanking 
William Carlos Williams out of the side of his mouth for the so- 
called joy of nature's disappointing our master plans for it. He calls 
Wallace Stevens on the carpet because there is no figure in it. In an 
erudite continuation of the discussion begun in the early set of po- 
ems about journeys, Finch debunks Stevens' celebration of the act 
of creation rather than the creation itself: 

The only mother of beauty is death on extended wings. 

(But to where 

Stevens?) 

We are sorely tempted to think that the arrangement of the 
parenthetical line is a tip of the hat to e. e. cummings. Surely the 
conversational tone is reminiscent of that prankster and his New 
Yorkish cohort Frank O'Hara: 

I am in April, fellows, and it is not 

the cruelest month, nor has it given any sweet showers. 

The allusions are so thick we wonder if Finch might love 
what he only professes to like. If Eliot is a letdown too and the 
necessary angel is only a thing with feathers, then the problem with 
writing with Finch is that he knows too much. Finch is too mature 
a young poet to sit on brood for long, however. The tone bespeaks 
his true intention, and he tips the reader off with a pleasant little 
pun: 

Still, let us here! The unreal has a reality all its own in 

poetry, 
says our necessary angel. 



15 



Finch believes this and doesn't believe it at once. That's the 
cruel discipline of April: you're coming and going. Finch makes fun 
of his own preoccupation, the inevitable obsession with self that 
follows, in the poem's closing gambit: 

To tire of a god, or nature, our spring, all after writing 

for me! 
What travesty. 

Stevens, Eliot, and Williams were not writing for Charlie 
Finch any more than they were writing for The Courant. Certainly, 
the quietly intimated modernist, the tragic son of modernism, Hart 
Crane (not to be confused with Stephen Crane who was, thank- 
fully, a newspaper reporter first . . . and while we are on the subject, 
it is interesting to note that these other modernists had real jobs as 
insurance salesman, banker, and surgeon respectively) was writing 
desperately for himself. He literall tried to make of the Brooklyn 
Bridge a bridge over that grey boundary between the here and now. 

So, when Finch turns "hears" into "here," the suggestion 
deliberately undermines the sour grapes of the poem's majority opin- 
ion. That suggestion becomes reality in the careful study of a sunset 
over water in "Allusion and Elusion," a poem about poetry as lan- 
guage ventured forth. 

Eluding refractions of light, alluding color, 

as green overlaps with and dulls 

the only vibrant blue, 

that color of the sky, 

that color of lost seas, 

a spangled sunset with 

a thousand equally dappled memories attached to its 

trailing red dust. Spread along a lake of 

the purest water, 

innocence manifest, 

like the mark of gravity on an infant. 



16 



This is the modernist's version of Wordworth's "Daffodils," 
an encomium to the "only mother of beauty," a sunset over water. 
The light, of course, must be the logos of meaning because it colors 
everything. Whereas the "sun lends nothing to the familiar" in "The 
Problem...," here it is elusive and allusive, avoiding meaning and 
tantalizing us with possible meanings. And in its dimming, it blurs 
the boundary between sky and water, the horizon a uniform blue/ 
green fictive mundo of "lost seas." The apostrophes of light on the 
water become our memories drawn to the horizon by the sun's red 
dust. But in that changing light, our efforts bespeak our wizened 
innocence, our will to reclaim the purest water. So it is that even in 
the child's first act, there is a mark of gravity. Creation is serious 
business, the child's first attempt to be human marking the bound- 
ary crossed from innocence into world-weary knowledge. And de- 
spite his protestations to the contrary, Finch's poetry wills that prob- 
lem into beauty by making language work in opposition to itself, 
"the mark of gravity on an infant." 

The Smitty prize winners for the Volume IV, Number 2 are 
Nathan Littlefield and Charlie Finch. 



Craig Thorn 



17 



My Attempt to Understand Dreams 
and the Devil as Memories 



I can remember dreams 

New agnosticism with hellish bends 

Which were truly attempts 

To run home, then to the schoolyard 

Back with first grade bruises all healed 

They were simply sores from running 

Back home in my mind 

Expression may be 
My earliest memory of life 
A feeling or a need to stand 
That is so simple to convey 
When looking back to then 
There is no sardonic laugh 
At its straightforwardness 
Only a wonderment about it 
Or whether it continues now 

Those hell dreams 
Closet devils, bedtime sheet-forts 
Are so fresh in my mind 
I could reach out any time 
To feel the breath of demons 
Pushing my exposed face back 
Toward those nights and dreams 
Hotwired in my mind 

Everything reflects life 
When reduced to simplicity 
Those dreams spin now 
The expression of a need 
Want of a devil 



18 



Creation of an unbelieved hell 
Poeish in execution 
With something else 
Eventually connecting it to life 
Attempts to distill being 
Into understandable units 

Or the belief that an ocean is better understood 
As a billion buckets of saltwater 



Nathan Littlefield 



19 



The Problem With Writing 



Joy! To say that jonquils tire of their 

fine, lilting petals before people 

tire of the same petals. 

That the sun lends nothing 

to the unfamiliar! Thanks, Williams. 

The only mother of beauty is a death on extended wings. 

(But to where 
Stevens?) 

I am in April, fellows, and it is not 

the crudest month, nor has it given any sweet showers. 

Still, let us here! The unreal has a reality all its own in 

poetry, 
says our necessary angel. 

To tire of a god, or nature, our spring, all after writing 

for me! 
What travesty. 



Charlie Finch 



20 



Poem 



50 cents, 

you write about Astrid 
you, gray 
in your robe, blue 
you write about Astrid 

or a cat's tail, anything 

over newsprint and toast crumbs 

smug in your 
breakfasty nook you 
write about Astrid in the 
cosmos, the coffee cup 

yes, you are aging and 
Astrid is 
red-lipped and 

you are writing to Astrid 
for Astrid has 
hatboxes 
stuffed with old 
paper, 

old closets and 

windowboxes: "Astrid 
w/ red begonias." 

Astrid 

smoldering in 
your garage with 
black and chrome 
cars 



22 



"O Astrid" 
cooks a brown egg 
lacquers her fingernails 
lives in New York 
as do you 

Astrid, 

tales of the menus 
tales of the men and 
of the grease 

(All of Astrid's 
friends are Franks 
and Jacks, they wear 
blue pants, send 
postcards) 

you wonder at 
Astrid, at 
cherrystones, 
the insides of her 
mouth, 

at skeins of red wool 
at her stocking-clad 
legs 

(her calves pumping 
blood and heels: 
brackish, seaworthy legs) 

smoking 

cigarettes in fast cars 
cigarettes at the breakfast table 



23 



mannequin, Astrid 
muse, Astrid: 
a plastic brow 
that learned to sweat 

and you 

those tremored hands 

"O the vein 

and liver-spotted!" 

and 

fruit heavy as 
plums, that dusky 
rot and bruising skin 
bruising in, you 
that sweat and age 
all flannel-kneed 
pajamas, 

grasping brown life 
from every gray hair: 

longing at last 
for the red 
ripe lips 

for a kiss. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



24 



Using Force 



I am going to force you out 

out at rickety hours of the night 
and not look you in your purple-brown baby's face 
until you are blue with breath and white with life 

and I am going to spit you on the ground with all 

the mushy cakes of split rotting apples and 
the dangerous gold of yellow jackets that decorate them 
and when you are stung with their venom and poked 
by their black high heels and antennae spears I might 
lift you and your tattered sleeves 

carry you in my shoe with the innards suffocating your 

sweet scented air of lightness 
until I reach my zenith, where my legs rank and whine 
and my back finds shadows to be pillowed on 
and I see the density of the sky and bite the brick with 

my eyes 

and then 

I might pull you out by your arms, roll you 

onto your stomach and onto your feet and recite your 

sacred prayers 
flash out your beauty and your beaten, burnt skin 

because you are a poem and you have to be hard 
and you have to have been everywhere, every color 
singed by every poison and rashed by every texture 

then and only then will I speak of you, 
look into your ruddy foreign face 

eye by pregnant eye. 

Caitlin Berrigan 



25 



The Palm Leaf 



She wants to be the well-fed artist 
Or poet — who are you to object? 

She sees the moon as a tool for a gail 
as an owl night is just a syncopation 

Confusing purge with thirst 
until life and anger is just a 

reflection of a reflection of a reflection 

Groping for the man who can lift her 
or lean in one breath and become God 

She stirs the palm leaf with her words 
the palm leaf fans with veins 

of veins of veins of veins 

Even she cannot predetermine 
the course of death or love 

Although it's a great job I might add 
Her hand gets sweaty on the stem 



Christina Richardson 



26 



1 he impression or. . . 



The impression of 

our nap 

fades. 

Rise sweet grass! 



Erica Fruiterman 



27 



That Cycle of Leaves 



We drive silent 

down a street overhung with branches 

and sunlight drops from each hard consoling leaf 

to each it's own shadow as they smack across the hood 

they seem to know they wave 

Goodbye Goodbye 

remind me a of a murder, as they all seem to stand over 

your sun blanket 
block the light and try to kill you but 
they wont they won't 

"So this is where you live." 

He says — but he knows without telling cause he can 

see the books 

in their cases, each handkerchief in it's fold, the hand 

lotion on the counter and the piano's keys 
He drops me onto the lawn. 

Later I'll play some slow music — like a light left on, a 

parent waiting up 
It makes my shoulders shudder. 
It makes me cry. 



Christina Richardson 



28 




Kate Nesin 



29 



Kate Nesin 
30 




Kate Nesin 



31 



Elegy 



You were always urbane, witty. You 

wore linen. I came into the matter with 

your well-being directly concerned, but I 

knew, as you did, that tea becopmes dilute 

under the weight of physics, or fate. One of 

the sciences, you know. Still, you're attached 

to some aurora in Italy or Connecticut. 

You were the voice from the other world, 

delightful sorrow or veracity, caught in some 

swirling storm. And now-no. To the chilled 

moon, some green lawn, or wicker chair. 

The truth? I loved you. As much as vibrancy 

was, I cringed, and in the end, diluted, fell from 

the ether, stained or bruised, milk or memory, 

until all that was left was the wind, rustling 

with vague insisctences in the leaves of an autumn tree. 



Charlie Finch 



34 



Distance 



"I miss the human truth of your smile" 

- John Ashberry 

Propelled ambiguity and us, 

the half hearted limpness of your palms, 

or, just the same, lost walks in a far off place. 

What I miss is the straight hair across your 

forehead, the mingled or dissipated sounds, 

the red cyclamens you cared for until spring, 

only to abandon when they withered... 

Azure of sky and sea, pounding the shore 
wearily, even in beauty. There is no absolute. 
I was wrong, or sick. 

I wish I had seen the sand scattered beneath our feet, 
and the faintest light that the sun gave 
before it broadened and sank. 



Charlie Finch 



35 



"The waves are large and 
brackish..." 



The waves are large and brackish, 
kicking up foam and sand. Mute power, 
tumbling around me, 
as you watch the familiar farce unfold. 
In the late afternoon the wind presses down, 
halting their benign neglect. The water is calm, 
smooth as a mirror, opalescent positivity, 
and I float from certainty, as though 
I were attached to some much attenuated rope. 
What I am navigating I do not know. Perhaps I shan't 
ever, but 

The shadow tinted grey, reminds me of the hour. 
Eventually, 

darkness corners the sun. And I follow the path of stolid 

mutability, 
as much as I will, dry and late, 
with guilt, thistle, mixed or matched, 
the final unconquered and unseen place. 



Charlie Finch 



36 



Grainne 



Let us go from here 

release me from an old man's abstraction 

a battle-prize, a token, a trinket 
Let us escape from circumlocutions of manners 

plots and intrigues 

stilted, shallow chatter 
Free me from the surface scum of stagnant puddles 

Let our life, our love, 

be measureless as the embrace of Manannan's sea. 



Katherine Gilbert 



37 



Glimpse of a Man Across the Room 



People say 
skin and breath 

are gone each vapor as it rises from skin each contour 

and panel of my existence 
brush lips 

their eyes 

Their eyes are always the same 
elusive and sparkling — like water 

I try to send out a message 

across the skinnyspace between us that has no room for 

symbiotic perfectness 
They never reach you 

When you see him 
You will know 

and yet 

I sleep ready in my best dress 

awake only with the moon and burglars 

I stare out my empty white window 



Christina Richardson 



38 




Nick Wilson 



39 



A Condition 



I don't remember losing my voice any more than I remem- 
ber growing older. The change from a normal, vocal person to a 
mute happened like a natural process, as if my genes dictated it. 
How suddenly I became aware of my affliction seems amusing, and 
I'd probably find it darkly funny if it involved someone besides 
myself. 

I completely lost my speech about a year ago, though my 
voice had been a little weak for a while before. It didn't really bother 
me, since my wife died young and we never had children, meaning 
that communication at home was nonexistent except at a few occa- 
sional family get-togethers. It wasn't a problem then, I could get my 
point across or ask for something easily enough, though I had to 
shout if I was talking to somebody in another room. My job didn't 
give me any trouble in that respect either, it didn't involve much 
dialogue outside some quick greetings, and nobody really cared if 
you were quiet, so long as they understood what you were saying. 

When I woke up that day -it was March 17th- I got out of 
bed and took a shower, humming to myself. The vibrations were 
barely audible, my voice had almost reached its dying point. Hum- 
ming, I toweled myself dry, ate a quick breakfast, during which I 
hummed between bites, shaved since I had absentmindedly forgot- 
ten to before, then traveled down five flights of stairs after finding 
out that the elevator wasn't working. Saying good morning to one 
of the janitors, I finally stopped my humming. That was the last 
time I ever hummed, it's impossible now, my vocal cords are com- 
pletely useless. 

I drove to work listening to classic rock on the radio, my 
number three preset. One and two were both talk radio, which I 
loved. There was one guy, he was on at six in the evening, who 
talked about regular stuff, nothing social or political like most of 
the other hosts. His ability at conversation was amazing. The man 
was very articulate, much better spoken than the usual talk show 
people, with a smooth voice. Not very deep or booming, just some- 
thing close to perfectly average. I've read that, in reality, beauty is 



40 



actually an image of the average. Eyes aren't too far apart or close 
together, mouth isn't especially long or short, all the body's ratios - 
they had a computer break down form into different ratios- are 
neither too great nor too small. He had that kind of voice, almost 
completely average. That was how my voice would have been if I 
could've controlled things like that. I don't listen to talk radio any- 
more, I can't. When I hear those perfect, dear, audible voices com- 
ing from totally normal, working mouths I feel as if I'm debasing 
myself by listening. Maybe it's envy or frustration, or possibly just a 
change in preference. The results are the same, so it isn't important. 

At work I parked closer to the building than usual, next to 
George's new car, a Honda Accord he'd told me about a month 
before, when I saw him last. I tried to remember where he'd been 
transferred to, where in the building he was working, but I couldn't 
recall. The last time we'd been on the same project was at least three 
years ago, when the two of us were editing encyclopedia articles 
that were being sent to a software company. Soon after that, he'd 
been transferred someplace or other, and I'd been moved to in-house 
research. The building's outer halls and offices were windowed and 
pretty lively, but the archives, where most research took place, could 
almost be called tomb-like. They occupied most of the basement 
and formed a core of stacks up the buildings middle, meaning that 
they had no windows. With only florescent bulbs they had an in- 
dustrial dreariness to them, and only a few people ever worked there 
at a time, so it was like spending most of the day alone in a giant 
metal and carpet cave. 

I walked across the lobby to an open elevator, down the 
fourth floor hall, and into my office, which was really kind of nice. 
The wall opposite the door was windowed from knee level up, and 
against the led wall stood my desk, with a new computer sitting on 
it and a big leather chair behind it. It was too bad I only spent about 
half an hour in there a day. The basket marked "IN" had four sheets 
of paper, three requesting some minor details that would probably 
take only fifteen minutes to find, and another looking for back- 
ground on Charlemagne's son. 

This building held a big collection of material about medi- 
eval Europe and a few things about Rome. We had all kinds of 



41 



documents and fiches and odd junk, so if a publisher or some col- 
lege kid working on his thesis needed facts they'd pay us a certain 
amount of money, depending on the difficulty in getting their ma- 
terial, then we'd find what they wanted. I wound up knowing more 
about Old Europe than most history teachers, and it surprised ev- 
eryone when I swept "The Romans" or "Pope Gregory" on Jeop- 
ardy. 

For the rest of the morning I pored over sources about Louis, 
the son. At 1 1 :24 - I had just glanced at my watch and the time is 
lodged in my mind- Reynold Anderson tapped me on the shoulder 
and asked, "You want to put that off for lunch?" 

I'd thought I was the only one on that floor, so Reynold 
startled me when he came up from behind, but I replied, "Sure." 
No sound left my mouth, though. I repeated, Sure," my lips moved 
smoothly, without effort, yet still silence. Again I tried without re- 
sult. I started to try to apologize for myself. I pushed each breath 
through my throat, my face and body tightening, twisted in frustra- 
tion over the loss of a function that should have been so reflexive. I 
didn't notice the look on Reynold's face as I went through my per- 
formance, but somehow I remember it as an expression of bewil- 
derment. Bugging eyes took in the scene, shrank, gave way to laugh- 
ing twitches at the corners of his mouth, then unmasked confusion. 

"Are you okay?" He managed. 

I think I'd realized then that something was wrong with my 
throat, even if whatever I thought was miles from the truth. I should 
have nodded, that would be the obvious way to say "Yes" without 
speaking. But behind my initial realization I had lost all sense of 
rationality- I didn't do anything so obvious. I tried everything but 
the easiest, shaking his hand, patting him on the back, hugging 
him, all while subconsciously opening and shutting my mouth like 
a fish trying to talk. Reynold pushed me away, but I grabbed his leg 
as I fell and accidentally tripped him. I pinned him on the floor by 
the shoulders, picked up a pen, and wrote "I'm fine" on the palm of 
my left hand. "Sorry. I just can't talk" I scrawled below it. 



42 



Nearly everything in the seven months following that is 
mmaterial, not worth detail. They thought I'd had a nervous break- 
iown, and I was taken tranquilized and wrapped in a straight jacket 
md to the first hospital. Tests were given, once they decided that I 
vasn't suicidal or about to bite off somebody's ear. The tests proved 
10 thing but the obvious: nothing traumatic or mind- altering had 
lappened to me, I was mentally and physically able, and the only 
ssue was my inability -or they believed failure- to speak. After a 
ittle more the doctors realized that I didn't belong there, since my 
:ondition was completely physical, so I went on to hospital two. 
immediately they put me through more tests, then the same tests 
were administered again with a few new ones, as they tried to dis- 
:over something that might explain my condition. They learned 
:hat my vocal cords had stopped working. Therapy began at a third 
lospital. In all, I spent seven months institutionalized, then was 
discharged, a medical anomaly, and went back to my job and my 
ipartment. The doctors have more or less put me on the back burner, 
except for correspondence every month and repeated tests every six. 
[ communicate with them via computer, one they gave me -very up 
:o date, much more than occasional e-mail messages require. One 
Denefit of a strange problem is that you're treated very well, given 
}lenty of attention compared to something relatively routine. 



The life I've entered into isn't really my own, it's more a 
:reation of the condition's. I suggest and it replies, vetoes, decides 
for me. The condition holds me in, and it is only against its will 
chat I attempt to leave the house, stick my neck out in any way. 
[nevitably I'm pushed back again, as if to prove it right. Any mishap 
:an send me running for cover. Having a handicap has crippled me 
with a hypersensitivity to its consequences. Waiters stare at the note- 
book I use to communicate like it's a gun, and as they read it, it 
becomes a curiosity. They flip back in the pages to see what the 
voiceless man writes, if it's strange or revealing, with the same mind 
is a little boy first peering at a naked woman. Always a quick glance, 
because they know there's something innately wrong in what they're 



43 



doing, but something makes them look. What's worse than that, 
though, is the condescension I receive. I'm either gawked at or fawned 
over. I can't stand either and resolve once again to remain in my 
own world. Sitting at the kitchen table I can carry on a conversation 
in my mind not wanting for speech. 

For a month after leaving the hospital I tried working at my 
old job. The company offered me early retirement and even a big 
bon voyage check, but I said I'd rather stay. Why confine myself to 
the apartment when I could be out among people? I wanted to go 
on living with my condition pushed aside as if it were irrelevant. 
My life after the discharge would be some inspirational story: Man 
copes with inability to speak, leads normal life. After two weeks I 
knew I wanted to quit, I couldn't take it. Endless explanations of 
continuous misunderstandings, people holding doors wide open for 
me like I couldn't walk through unassisted, and my silence weigh- 
ing on me every time I pulled out the notebook. Simple questions 
and three word answers became projects. Stunted phrases scrawled 
in a 3-by-5 notebook replaced free-flowing speech. I couldn't stand 
seeing my reality contrasted against what should be, what everyone 
could do and what I once could. The condition pushed me down - 
I didn't give up because an obstacle was too big. 

Mostly I lie around, either in front of the TV or sometimes 
messing with my computer. I don't understand too much of that 
stuff and I doubt I'll ever use the machine for anything besides e- 
mailing the hospital or playing solitaire. There's no reason to move 
from the TV anyway. What else is there? Things I'll never figure 
out, more reassurance that I'm a freak, a fluke, something perfect 
for a carnival if it wasn't so mundane. Every day is identical to the 
last, so much so that I lose track of the date for stretches. The day is 
immaterial, since for me it could be any. I'll watch a morning show, 
usually pieces of all three, with what passes for breakfast on my lap, 
then drift into afternoon, marking the change by throwing away 
breakfast's long empty paper plate. I sleep, usually until eight or 
nine o'clock, when I microwave dinner and watch until the pro- 
grams become too inane. Some nights I go to bed and others I fall 
asleep on the couch only to wake up the next morning, usually 
when The Price is Right starts, and spend hours more sitting there. 



44 



\t times I tire of the TV, its people, and their voices, so I sit at the 
ptchen table working on a puzzle neglected to a point where the 
:ompleted section is gathering dust. Mostly I sit in a torpor until 
:>oredom drives me back to the couch or, occasionally, outside. Tele- 
vision, sleep, sometimes 18 hours a day in bed. Absolutely no radio, 
except classical every once in a while, muted when a host or com- 
tnercial comes on. I used to read aloud to myself at home, so 1 don't 
couch books- just another reminder. 

The urge to actually do something strikes often, but it takes 
pie a long time to act. Past embarrassments are brought back to 
ight, persuading me to stay where I am. Logically, something will 
lappen to ruin things, and I stay logical until my routine becomes 
poo much.. Television loses its appeal, the radio drives me insane, 
md quiet voices in my head grow louder, coercing me into reneging 
my promise of solitude. Of course I fight it, the rest of the world 
and I were meant to stay apart, and I know it. I'll only come crawl- 
ing back here, wishing I had listened to reason and never left. Cir- 
:umstance, genetics, whatever gave me this condition let the most 
essential thing I possessed atrophy and die. 

I have to drive over to somebody if I want to do anything 
since I can't use a phone. What ought to be simple has become and 
all day endeavor, to find an old friend who's free for dinner takes 
hours. It's like when I was in grade school, when I'd get on my bike 
and ride around seeing if anyone was home, except that was only 
around the neighborhood. Now I know people who live a half hour 
distant, and are separated from my next choice for dinner by 40 
minutes of highway. There's no way to tell if the ride will even be 
worth the time. Maybe they're food shopping, maybe they're on 
vacation, maybe they just don't look out the window because they 
think it's a neighbor beeping for his kid to hurry up in the bath- 
room. Nothing is certain once I leave the house. I suppose we could 
swap letters, setting up dates months in advance so we don't inter- 
fere with their plans, but we don't. When we do meet, having regu- 
lar briefs on the outside world might give material for conversation, 
which is usually halting and shallow, because over time we've be- 
come unfamiliar, my non-communication worsening the situation. 
That won't happen thought; I'm not going to correspond with any- 



45 



body. For 7 months, I fell off the face of the earth in the eyes of my 
friends - I was institutionalized after a nervous breakdown. I'm sure 
there was a lot of "I sure didn't see that coming, not from him at 
least" at work. They believed that I was gone, in a mental hospital 
for the rest of my life. Why should they have thought otherwise? 
Nobody outside the hospital was ever updated on my progress be- 
cause I had no family to notify and pass word on to my friends. 
When I returned, many former acquaintances shied away, and even 
those who did welcome be back seemed distant, noncommittal. The 
attitude wasn't that I was sane and healthy besides one defect, but 
that I was a refugee from the nuthouse. Leaving again, I told few 
people of my reasons, and even they probably guessed that my mental 
troubles were showing their face again. So I didn't expect any mail 
from them. My disappearance pushed away acquaintances, destroyed 
shaky friendships, and almost crushed the best ones. Out of them 
all, the only person who could possibly treat me as before would be 
George, but he's gone. When I came back I heard that he had left 
the company on the tenth of March, a week before I lost my voice. 
His car was probably there because he was settling a few final things., 
and he must have left too early to hear about me, so In his mind 1 
would be free from the neurotic stigma, but I can't find him even 
though I've looked into every possibility. 

The last time I went out was one of the worst. For three 
hours I drove around, beeping in people's driveways, knocking or 
their doors; I tried six without luck. Finally I found Mick Pistoris 
home. As he came to his door and saw who had beeped in the drive- 
way he looked a little shocked, but came outside to talk. We had a 
decent conversation through my notebook, and after a while I con- 
vinced him to come see a movie, and I stayed for dinner. While we 
were eating desert, key lime pie, Mick's two kids sat in the othei 
room dreaming up all kinds of causes for my condition: I was ar 
alien, AIDS, drugs (one of them wore a DARE T-shirt decoratec 
with chocolate chip ice cream), or I was gay. I've developed a reall) 
intense hatred for small children since my release. Most people keep , 
their true thoughts about me to themselves, but kids don't seem tc 
be aware of things like nervous breakdowns. Whatever they thinl 1 
shoots right out their mouths, and it drags me back to the reality o] 



46 



my place in the world. If I hadn't felt indebted to Mick for going 
somewhere with me, and even more because of dinner, I would 
have yelled at them. 

Things were fine going into the movie, as good as they could 
be with the usual stares and complaints about slowing down the 
ticket line. We sat in silence- it was too dark to read my notebook- 
until I got up to use the bathroom half way through the movie. 
When I left the theater the doors locked behind me, I didn't notice 
them click shut. Trying to get back in, I couldn't open them and 
went to find an usher. The only ones close by were the ticket takers, 
who were standing at the top of a short staircase overlooking the 
snack line. Another movie was 45 minutes from starting, the line 
was a mile long, the whole lobby packed with people buying tickets 
and food. As I came up to the usher I reached into my pocket for 
the notebook, but it was missing. Like I usually do, I went almost 
hysterical trying to explain myself in sign. Pretty soon people were 
pointing, a few laughing, with me up at the top of the stairs gestur- 
ing and being gawked at. 

I haven't ever been able to deal with stufflike that. In school 
I took my fair share of abuse and dished out just as much, but I 
wasn't the curiosity then. Would it have accomplished anything if I 
tried to throw it back in the crowd's face, like I did in school? What 
would I do anyway? I couldn't shout at them, I'd just gesture and 
get myself even more attention. The condition forces me to inter- 
nalize when thing like that happen. My release happens inside, be- 
cause that only requires my understanding and action, not some- 
body else's. I sat over on the window ledge in front of the line, 
simultaneously hating and envying the people standing there. I'd be 
absolutely fine if I were like them, there's no doubt. 

Eventually the movie ended and Mick came out looking 
annoyed, almost angry. He borrowed a pen and paper from a lady 
in the line, and I explained to him what had happened. All the 
frustration and anger were omitted. It wouldn't help me if one more 
person saw me as some self-maligning neurotic instead of a victim. 
We stepped between puddles on the way to the car, it must have 
rained during the movie, and Mick suggested that I could avoid 
most of this if I learned sign language. 



47 



I had thought of that before. About a week after my release 
I'd even signed up for classes, but I decided not to go. Whatever 
made back away, I can't tell. All the conceptions I'd built up during 
my life, aversion to handicaps, anything that wasn't working and 
couldn't be made to- 1 guess I couldn't be part of that. Dealing with 
my condition equaled breaking down and admitting my handicap. 
That could be the sum of all this trouble. I don't try to deal with 
anything. More importantly, there's some part of my mind that 
doesn't want to change, call it inertia. Even now it wants to see me 
as fine, normal, just a guy with a soft voice, like before the 17th. All 
these memories play in my head, trying to block out the present, 
reality, and all the uncertainty they bring. That's what it is- I'm a 
refugee from reality, full of delusions and excuses, slowly realizing 
that I don't want to move, think, or least of all change. I realize 
what's going on, that I'm doing nothing more than wallowing in 
self pity and half baked rationalizations, I detest myself for that, but 
at the same time I don't want anything else. If the present is as static 
as the past the future can be no different, a huge uncertainty is 
eliminated, and why burden myself with more uncertainty? Satis- 
faction, reality, and normalcy are all wonderful things- but addic- 
tive, and I've seen what happens when they're taken away. 

Nathan Littlefield 



48 



An Afterword on the Afterwards 



In one explosive crack, I blew God to smithereens. This 
iwas no cartoon-explosion; there were no bright red letters scream- 
ing "pow!", no yellow zigzags. In the middle of the afternoon, a 
week before pre-season football camp, I blew my brains out. 

They did not ask questions or give me answers. They only 
convinced me that there is a God, and I used to doubt that some- 
times in church, when everyone but me seemed to believe, and I in 
the family pew felt guilty for my wayward soul. They simply sent 
me back. 

I had blown Karen Ewing and fishing in the spring to 
smithereens. When they sent me back, they did not say a word. 
They simply encased my sixteen-year-old soul into the body of an 
eighty-year-old man and left me alone. 

I found out, as the nosy cleaning lady bustled around my 
room and talked mercilessly, that I was James Mo ran, a retired ad- 
miral in the Navy. I had a son who called himself Harmony and 
drove a Harley around the country, compiling a book of photo- 
graphs and journalism on "gay bars". I was apparently Catholic 
and accepted both my son and a monthly pension. I lived a quar- 
ter-mile from Irwin High, where the real me, star quarterback for 
the Irwin Wildcats, used to play football. 

I walked down the church isle during my own funeral. I 
noticed the Smallski twins, two huge running-backs on my team, 
and sat behind them. They sat motionless, looking down at their 
hands. I knew how to make them laugh. I whistled once, quickly, 
the way we used to do at girls in the hall. Andy looked up sharply. 
1 1 tried again, waiting for the chuckle. Mike turned around and 
glared. Andy said, "I think I'm going to be sick." I never knew 
Andy Smallski, the toughest senior in all of Irwin, could cry. He 
heaved and sobbed, shuddering into his arms, until his mother led 
him out of the church. 

After three weeks, the school seemed to pull itself together. 
Before every game, the coach stuck out his hand and everyone on 
the team piled their hands on top of his in a circle. They shouted, 



49 



"Go Irwin!", like always. I hoped he said, "do it for Nate". That 
season they won the state title with Nick Cunningham, the second- 
string quarterback, responsible for the winning touchdown. 

I never liked Nick while I was Nate. Nick practiced bru- 
tally; he hung a tire in his backyard and practiced throwing a foot- 
ball through it for hours. His hands got so chapped in the winter 
that his fingers bled in the middle of class. When he moved up to 
Varsity and took my locker, no one said anything. The Smallski's 
didn't even put anything in his locker. The coach said he was ex- 
tremely talented; the newspaper said he had big cleats to fill. 

The nosy cleaning-lady wanted to know why I had taken 
the janitorial job at Irwin high. It wasn't right, she contended, that 
a retired Navy officer empty wastebaskets. She mopped the kitch- 
enette floor, tsking under her breath like a series of tap-dancing 
penguins. 

For the first few days of school, Karen Ewing was a mess. I i 
was so glad I ran to the boys' bathroom, flung open the window 
and released a jubilant cry to the street below. My heart fluttered 
wildly at the thought of her vacant stare, the black ribbon threaded 
loosely through her hair. 

Karen visited the school psychologist on Thursday. I pre- 
tended to empty the wastebasket in the adjacent office and dust off 
paperweights. 

"I dumped him, and he shot himself. The only thing I 
didn't do was pull the trigger," she said this emotionlessly, as though 
talking from the dead. 

The counselor told her she wasn't guilty. Karen continued, 
oblivious to the mousy counselor. "I loved him. I was just playing 
hard to get. I read that in my fashion magazine: play hard to get'." 
She burst into tears. I imagined myself as Nate walking into the 
office suddenly. I imagined how mad Karen would act at first, but 
then she'd just hold me, saying it was a dirty trick but who cares. 
Who really cares, Nate, she'd say. You're back and that's all that 
matters. 

"Can I help you?" The psychologist demanded. I shook 
my head and walked out into the hall. 

Towards springtime, the Smallsky's and Nick Cunningham 



50 



went fishing down Yellowstone River. Nick talked about how Karen 
had asked him to the prom. 

"She was talking to her friends and just laughing and laugh- 
ing. The she looked real serious and turned around. She was like: 
'Hey Nick! Who you going to prom with?' I was like: 'Beats me.' 
Then she smiled and said, 'How about me?'" Nick reeled in a trout. 
The fish writhed on the end of his line, head arched back, green tail 
flicking up towards the sun. 

I'll never get used to hearing myself in the past tense. "Nate 
was a player. He was always doing stuff to get attention." Was! 
That word imprints itself across my whole body, winds around me, 
binding me. Was! I am encapsulated in the past tense, and I will 
never get out. 

My orange cat rubs against my legs and leans into the chip- 
ping white paint on the basement wall. He poses classically, the 
skinny cat against dilapidated wall. The local museum is hosting a 
display of 'Cats in the Arts': cats in paintings, cats in plaster, cats in 
glass. Cats in ancient Egypt, trendy cats painted on shiny black- 
and-white tile floors. I eagerly comb my hair and find my wallet. 

I couldn't stand the sight of the old man. Perhaps that was 
their idea of my hell. I hated his watery, colorless eyes, his gaunt 
cheekbones, the blue veins around his temples. I hated his wrinkles, 
age spots, and cracked lips. I took my mirror down. With no 
reminders, I almost forgot I was James Mo ran, retired Navy admi- 
ral, and go back to thinking I was Nate, star quarterback for the 
Irwin Wildcats. 

By December, people stopped talking about me. I became 
a point in time, my suicide a quiet center of people's conversations. 
People explained that they had purchased a particular t-shirt at a 
particular store a little bit before Nate's suicide, a little bit after. 
They did the same thing with Yellowstone's floods. After the first 
few weeks, no one complained bitterly about the flood. People 
forgot the way it carried off their televisions like a muddy thief, the 
way it bleached the bottoms of their wooden table-legs, the way it 
chased them up the stairs. The tragic events in Irwin become a 
town calendar, remembered only to help organize the present, a 
time-line, a grid. When did your older daughter get married, Mrs. 



51 



Ewing? Oh, before the flood, a few years after that boy's suicide,! 
Mr. Moran. I wouldve killed myself again for that: the loss of my 
name. 

I am black point in people's memories. Karen's notes on; 
molecular biology, to be memorized for a test on Friday, shadowed 
me into oblivion. Immediately after the suicide, I had been the 
thought to which people's minds kept returning, a star. By Decem- 
ber, I had become a black hole. 

I quit working at Irwin High and became a book collector. 
I collected books on two subjects: battleships and cats. I was s 
sucker for bright pictures and full-color photographs. Harmon) 
told me on the phone that I had developed a lot of soul. 

I love the sight of the streaking dawn so much I go to sleep, 
after it, but I don't want to miss the mornings either. I like to be 
awake for the mail, to hear the clunk as it slides in the slot. I keep 
hoping I'll hear from an old lover. I love the twilight, the sound* 
the crickets make, the way Harmony's orange cat crawls up on m) 
lap. 

Sometimes when I worry too much about dying, about hav- 
ing to vote Republican, about what to do with the jars of Englisr 
tea-bags the cleaning lady insists I like, I think about what come; 
after this. I can't imagine eternity. I can't imagine anything withoui 
an ending. 

I map out possibilities of who I will be in my next life: Karer 
and Nick's third child, Harmony's cat's kitten, the football coach': 
only child, a daughter who won't like sports. If I am Karen's child 
I will whistle at her and thereby frighten her, mystify her, endea 
myself to her. I like this scenario best. Sometimes I think I will jus 
become dust, gradually melt away to nothing, and there will be thi: 
unimaginable unconsciousness, a sleep, whatever there was before 
was born. 



Kate Zangrilli 



52 



Summer 



The year before I was born 

was the hottest summer here 

recorded to date, though 

the next after it was cool, or nearly, 

almost bordering on cold. 

I used to run metal pieces like forks 
along a metal rim, pretending that 
I played a creaking violin or viola, 
sometimes even viola da gamba. 
It was to remind me 
of the cold and how the trees, 
leafy in the summer, 

might have been dull in the sharp blue sky 
before I could see. 

I knew how to recall 
the fierce juxtaposition 
and the red nose I carried, 
even in the warmer hours. 

The women during the 

summers, always warmer and warmer after that, 
wore fabulously high, high heels with their white skirts, 
walking next to their men, 

dwarfed in sneakers and loafers which didn't shine. 

I thought it was to let the shoes 

last longer, the heel being longer, 

wearing down, down, taking years 

to reach the flatness of my shoes, 

many summers until they wore through. 

I secretly admired the shape 



53 



of legs in such built up shoes. 

I vowed that soon I would wear them, 

all year round, too, 

so long as the stilettos didn't snap 

like branches in the cold. 

The clip, quicker than most, 

of the thin heels on sidewalks 

reminded me of the crack of trees, 

in nipping weather and wind, 

whether in the summer months, 

or the winter ones. 



Kate Nesin 



54 



"I could smell Winter last night. 



I could smell Winter last night. 

The cold stream running from the Yukon 

Coming south to Banff and passing over Calgary 

Touching Montana, splitting the Twins 

Then falling south past Madison 

Reaching iris nadir in Chicago, 

It runs the Great Lakes into Detroit, Buffalo, and across 
The Empire State and into Massachusetts 
Up to my front door. 

I could feel Winter this morning. 

I stepped out from the vitals of Bullfinch 

And like an unwelcome guest 

Breathing in your face 

Proclaiming his arrival, and his intent 

To stay. 

I flinched at first and closed my eyes 
To the flat glare piercing through the cloudy sky 
And I remembered the sound of trudging. 
The encapsulating effect of snow, 
Making your ears deaf to the world around you 
Except for the sound of watching your breath 
And listening to your steps cut through a thin layer of 
firn 

Tomorrow it will be Winter. 

His subtle warnings, the changing leaves 

The hardened faces, the steps of walkers growing brisk. 

The happiness of the nearing holidays 

The depression of the pending holidays 

Two different things, two different meanings. 

Yes, Winter is coming, and the cold is upon us. 



55 



The earth is rolling on ids side 

Making the days grow short, and the nights unrelenting. 
A sound sleep comes over us, as the hearth is cleaned. 



Derek Neathery 



56 




Shivani Reddy 



57 



"'Scuse Me" 



I saidl was sorry, 

dammit, told them I meant it, 

again and again to a monitor froze, 

alone while all hell 

filled up the pond again. 

You see nothing. Neither did I. 
Said I was sorry. Said it again. 
Scared straight, I said 
to my ghost-limned friend, 
who hadn't asked. I said it to 

men with teeth, in pickup trucks. 
I said it to the golden-haired, I said it to 
the black-haired, with their brass bands 
and guitars. I said it to the elfin men, 
the sweetest- voiced, the blackest-hearted, 

to the deafened and the kindly, 

to the dutiful most of all. 

To make a chant without a voice, 

to make a still-limbed shriving, T / 

I knit this out of sweat and fear. 

Outside, in some tree's gnarled skirts, 
there rests a butter knife, no sign 
of rust, a peaceful sleep; safe, the evidence 
of some very tiny crime. All hell 
pours down around it; all that rain. 



Amy O'Neal 



58 



Alice Lewis 




Alice Lewis 



60 



Our Perfect Hell 



He had long, jet black hair. He had bleached it a long time 
before, so only the very ends of his hair were blonde. When I first 
met him, I couldn't tell if he was real or fake, heaven sent, or intrin- 
sically evil. He reminded me of the devil. His name was Gabriel. 

I knew Gabriel for exactly twelve hours. We spent the whole 
night together. He had a beautiful face, but his eyes spoke of some- 
thing. Something that he knew and didn't want to know, some- 
thing that he regretting ever having to face. That something was 
behind his eyes at every moment; it never left. Even when he was 
laughing and rolling on the floor, it lingered on. When he was lost 
inside his mind, seeing his visions, I could see his something lurk- 
ing there behind the dust of his eyes. He didn't care to clarify his 
eyes to me, but he let me look into them and see what I could see. 

Gabriel, Gabriel. He would spark his lighter in a completely 
dark place, highlighting his features. It was as if we were in hell and 
I face to face with the devil. I was alone, vulnerable to the enemy of 
all that I knew, the enemy that wanted to bring me down. And this 
enemy's name was apparently Gabriel. Then my friend would stir 
impatiently and whisper, "Will you hurry up, Gabriel?" Then he 
would smile and turn out the light, his little maniacal laugh over- 
taking us in the darkness. We emerged into the light, and on his 
face was the cutest expression. At that instant he was a baby squint- 
ing in the light. At that moment he was an angel, trying to guide us 
children to the safest place, right in front of the television. 

In front of the television, on my friend's immense couch, 
we would lounge and naturally turn to MTV. With the sound muted 
and ICP blasting on the stereo, the music became a soundtrack to 
every crazy video. And in turn, ICP became the soundtrack to our 
lives. Everything we did was prerecorded on the Insane Cloud Posse's 
'Wicked Clowns' songs. We all died, went to hell, and were in hell. 
We were in hell, watching TV in my friend's house, which was also 
in hell. This was true because it said so in ICP's lyrics. We were all 
convinced of this fact, and were perfectly content with it. None of 
us cared that we were in hell, because if this was hell, we were glad 



61 



that we had died together in my friend's house watching muted and 
soundtracked MTV. 

Gabriel would give me the most wonderful backrubs. He 
would sit behind me and wrap his legs around me so that his feet 
were in my lap. His strokes would brush all the way through my 
body, reverberating down to my toes and out to my fingers. He 
rubbed my back to the beat of the soundtrack to our lives. He was 
an angel. Gabriel sat right in front of me, his face an inch away 
from mine, our noses touching. He wanted to see the color of my 
eyes, but the room was too dark. So we decided that it was his turn 
for a backrub, and that we wouldn't wake up our friends already 
asleep on the couch. Together, Gabriel and I made the perfect hell, 
the beat of the soundtrack to our lives 



Miriam Berger 



62 



Black Friday 



the day 

my parents 

threw each other out 

the cats just slid 

under chairs 

and pretended 

they didn't know 

what was going on 

and throughout the morning 

it was dark, swelling 

with the earth 

scent, making itself 

fresh 

before rain 



Kate Zangrilli 



63 




64 



Four Walls 



1 . I'm sick of searching 
for what you've lost 

always finding it 
in the 

"goddamn! breadbox!" 

voices echo in the kitchen 
clash in static 
the radio mutters 
in distraction 

coming home 
the commuter rail 
rattles you gray 
as a fist. 

2. you think of 
paper 

envy it's smooth brow 
white as the sky, but 
windless 

you want to write a list 
of your grievances: 

your mother, leaning into your life like a cat 
your daughter, behind closed doors 
your husband, forgets 
your father, a void 

the sign in Trenton that said "the world takes." 



65 



turn on the faucet and 
the pipes ring and knock 
throughout the house like 
a blind pinball machine: 

he kicks you in his sleep. 

rhinoceroid, cyclopic, lopsided 
stumbling forward 
all thumbs 
your body turns 
against you 

you still have the scar 

he still "finds you attractive." 

and standing 

at the bedposts 

in your housecoat, you 

want to kick too 

scald and blister 

rush, 

still red: 

demanding to know why you 
were the one 
standing at the sink 

when the water 
spurted out too 
hot and too 
fast. 

Caroline Whitbeck 



66 



Crowned With Pink Compact 



she was twirling like a doll 

on a music box 

those years, those months 

she woke every morning 

to spin in bed with 

185 pounds of man 

kissing the scrape of his moustache 

each pore pouring rough black 

and each lip a red roll of a slug. 

so 'Big He Little She' 

his stomach like a globe 

she could be swallowed 

and he would taste her 

their sheets routined and dry 

she loved him because he 

would be in control these times. 

and she could lie, patterned panties 

removed at the thigh. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



67 



33 rd Street 



I have no remorse 

lover's, buyer's, seller's 

I have no regret 

morning, afternoon, night 

cause I have it all 

I got that memory of good living 

I got black showers 

and mother's eyes on the guy's prize 

and disconnected phones for smoke 

I got it all 

I got visine addiction 

and weird kisses past 7:00 

on the laps of pantyhose jack offs 

and emotional evidence on my neck 

and hot tub hallucinations 

and little deaths 

and awkward urges 

to want the world to enter me in rhythmic intervals 
and I got foreskin fumbles 
and mirror mooning 
and roof passion 

and homemade halter tops in the playground 
and agony 

over those lessened by destiny and speechless advice 
that somehow named me wise 
but I got it and I'm glad 



Caitlin Mulhern 



68 



9 Years 



choking on your pride 
wanting to strangle the ones 
who have mastered it 
obsessed with the obsession 
I can't practice 9-5 
I can't run fast enough 
I can't jump high enough 

but I sure as hell 

know my feng shui 

better than half of those 

medal-winning midgets 

I sure as hell know 

my Spanish like a madwoman 

and that piano 

in the dark man 

I'm the parragon 

of nude midnights 

on stools 

in showers 

on diving boards 

I'm the one that won't forget me 



Caitlin Mulhern 



69 



Temporary 



Temporary whistles 
wet lips wet 
the city air 
windless whistles 

turgid, urgent 
dangles scrawny knees 
out the windows 

dangles sticky 
pantyhose 

her belly is fleecy 

her belly is cotton- raw and glossy 

tongue flapping like a 
clothesline in the wind 

stringy she and 
cotton-crotched 

she likes to talk about the wind 
she likes to tell us where she's been 

Funny baby! 

don't touch her: she's raw 
she'd bleed away 
without a kiss 

I saw it once 

she broke her fingers on the door 

running out, tore her 

nightie ribbons and gums 

and blood blood blood 

welled up like strawberry blossoms 



70 



Rigorous and sour, she now 
swallows her milk teeth, 
pads along on her knees: 

her nipple snapped 
a skin-lidded flap 
her heart 

beat away unperturbed 

her fingers chapped 
callous-capped 
from trying to touch 
the fleeting world. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



71 



Heavenly Bodies 



This park. In a suburb south of Boston. To the north is the 
shipyard, to the west is a wasteland infested with sumac and poison 
ivy, to the south is the Haggerty's backyard, and to the east, beyond 
a sparse brake, is Route 3-A. 

1984: David Langelo threw the basketball a little too far at 
the annual neighborhood Field Day. The erratic motion in the cor- 
ner of its eye spooked the little dapple gray pony that was giving 
rides to the legions of horse-crazy kids with no horses of their own. 
Elizabeth Foley, a lisping, Shirley Temple doll of a four year old was 
dragged two hundred yards by the galloping pony, her left foot caught 
in the stirrup, the rest of her hanging and bumping against the legs. 
She got a concussion and a lifelong horse phobia. The panic and 
disorientation of the moment, the smell of the horse, the sight of 
her own curls dragging in the sand and gravel and dead grass would 
be her earliest memory. 

1985: David Langelo sprinted with the absolute power of 
pure terror through here. Chasing after him was a drunk bum from 
the shipyard. This bum had a knife. David had thought this crazy 
bum was his friend. He had been experimenting with running away, 
spending nights in cardboard boxes in the shipyard, and the bum 
gave him watered-down vodka. Elizabeth Foley won first prize in 
the Field Day costume contest. She was a fairy, wearing white tights, 
a green leotard, and gauzy wings that fluttered like eyelids in the 
June breeze. 

1986: David Langelo smoked his first cigarette here, with 
the older Lennon brothers. The bum fell in love with Crazy Mary. 
At sleepover parties around the neighborhood, they say that if you 
say "Crazy Mary, Crazy Mary, Crazy Mary" before a mirror, at mid- 
night, you will see blood splatter your reflected face . That is her 
revenge, they say. Elizabeth Foley and her friend Katie Haggerty 
found a bottle of clear Revlon nail polish in the bushes, cast away 
by Crystal Davidson. Elizabeth and Katie decide that this is the 
Wicked Witch of the West's magic potion. Elizabeth becomes con- 
vinced that she is Ozma of Oz; Katie believes that she is Dorothy. 



72 



1987: David Langelo smoked his five hundredth cigarette 
here, all Marlboros. The boy has his brand loyalty. The drunk bum 
joins AA, and Crazy Mary's cousin buys her a trailer. Elizabeth Foley 
and Katie Haggerty decide that Crazy Mary is the Wicked Witch of 
the West. Crystal Davidson meets an older guy, out of high school. 
He has a motorcycle and she says it feels like heaven riding on it, 
everything blur and wind and noise, 'til it tips over and gives her a 
nasty burn on her leg. Her mother asks what the burn is from; 
Crystal can't think of any lies but the truth, so her mom finds out 
about the older boyfriend and kicks her out of the house. It's an 
ugly scene; all the neighbors call Mrs. Davidson to find out what 
happened. Crystal spends the night alone in the park, under the 
jungle gym shaped like an octopus. The next day, Mrs. Davidson 
takes Crystal back. 

1988: David Langelo wrote "I Love You Crystal I Love You" 
in the sand of the baseball diamond here. Crystal saw it the next 
day and wondered and wondered who on earth wrote it. The bum 
never drank anymore; he and Crazy Mary lived out some odd, sweet/ 
sad parody of normal life together in their trailer. Elizabeth Foley 
and Katie Haggerty threw pebbles and acorns at Crazy Mary, the 
Wicked Witch of the West. She chased them down and slapped 
them, hard. Crystal Davidson lost one of her diamond stud ear- 
rings; she doesn't know it, but it's still here, waiting in the grass 
around the octopus-jungle gym. Mrs. Davidson volunteered to lead 
Brownie Troop No. 48 1 1 . The shipyard went out of business, what 
with government cut-backs and all. 

1989: David Langelo started a habit of coming down here 
around twilight, sitting on the swing set, barefoot, and writing angsty 
poetry, mostly about Crystal and the tragedy of unrequited love. 
Crystal left home; the older boyfriend proposed to her here, as they 
sat on the basketball court looking up and tracing the constant paths 
of the heavenly bodies and constellations. She said yes and they 
bought a starter house over in Hull. It is the happiest year of her 
life. The bum and Crazy Mary died; Crazy Mary sprinkled gasoline 
over everything — the trailer, the cats, the bum, herself — and struck 
a match. The Crazy Mary sleepover myth spread throughout the 
town, beyond the confines of the neighborhood. Elizabeth Foley 



73 



and Katie Haggerty had a fight, yelling and kicking and screaming. 
They will eat on opposite sides of the cafeteria for the rest of el- 
ementary school, and all through middle and high school as well. 
Mrs. Davidson embezzled several thousand dollars of Girl Scout 
Cookie money — she made quite a profit, because one of her Brown- 
ies, Michelle Lennon, played the part of Cosette in the Boston pro- 
duction of Les Miserables 2X the Wang. Professional actors, it seems, 
have an unusual craving for Thin Mints, and they all bought doz- 
ens from her. The Girl Scouts of America do not press charges, 
fearing the accompanying publicity and besmirching of their im- 
age. 

1 990: David Langelo's visiting grandmother broke her ankle. 
She was just sitting on the swing here, but the chain was rusty to the 
point of disintegration; the swing collapsed and so did she, landing 
on her ankle funny. Elizabeth Foley decided she was too old to come 
here anymore. So had Katie Haggerty. Mrs. Davidson left town; the 
evil looks everyone was giving her got to be too much to put up 
with. Michelle Lennon and her parents moved out to L.A. to pur- 
sue her acting/modeling career. She appeared in a TV movie, play- 
ing a girl who is kidnapped and murdered by some psychopath. 

1991: David Langelo kissed Elizabeth Foley after giving her 
a ride on the motorcycle he bought from Crystal's husband. Katie 
Haggerty told everyone at school the next day so Elizabeth is a slut. 
The incident was the middle school gossip of the year — David was 
seventeen and Elizabeth was eleven. Afterwards, they never went to 
the park together, where Katie could see from her window. Now 
they go to the cemetery, or the hill near the harbor, where Elizabeth 
says the salt breeze makes the blades of grass flutter like eyelids. 



Anne Borneuf 



74 



L 



Graduation: Hurling Through the 
Rite of Passage 



A whole year early — premature — 
(a whole whorl of the zodiac) 

a year early and she left, 
her diamond-white cap whirring on her crown 

(later to be pearled with mothballs, 
a toy for her tiny brown children) 
running her shellfish-melon manicured digits 
over the laminated certification, embossed with her name 

uplifted black letters 
and roping signatures belying across the bottom; 
how that sharp gold seal like a triumphant face 
spat 

"Eureka!" into the frowning creases of her mother's brow. 
Escaped. 

They all mutter how rapidly she wanted to grow up 

— premature — 
from the size of an apricot-cheeked Ginny Doll to: this 
white-feathered- 17-matron housing accents of 

car shows, drop-outs, baby photos, blonde curls... 
eyeliner heavy as tar, early marriages and thread-thin styles 
(alcohol cut down the back throats 

of men) 
burgundy-black sugar koolaid. 

I sparkle amid all my dark in the rows behind her. 
Somehow this stage, this audience, these butched haircuts 
and 

these mustard acrylic curtains 
have transported us to the 1950s 
the metallic gloss of the malfunctioning microphone 
and the butterfly purr of the blue programs 



75 



airing the sticky faces of 500 restless people. 
She is a name among the white and green zombies, 
her split-faced grin the same worn smile 

she strapped on her mouth throughout the 
— premature — years. 

I remember her: wet and smelling of Aloe Vera, 

smooth olive hands snapping me into a whore's costume 
(the monkey-bottom red swelling my lips) 

and through her sour-pitted, grinding affectation of nice 
young woman, 

we all tucked our crossed-fingers beneath our laps, 
tried to clap and hoot away our fears and doubts 

as we beamed, beamed, beamed. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



76 



A Travelling Man: Elijah McCoy 



Elijah McCoy's feet never met with the steaming-kettle pave- 
ment or the toadstools and scratchy weeds that gave you warts and 
made you crazy as he walked the winding path of rusty trestle on his 
way to Lorna's Fine Roadhouse and Supperclub. On his way, town 
faded into empty warehouses that smelled of dying dust and the 
large wooden crates that could only be opened by super-heroes af- 
ter their spinach or spaghetti-o's. The way was lined with the skel- 
etons of many dandelions, whose wishes the wind whispered away. 

Elijah would sit out many of the great hazes of summer at 
his lemonade stand in the grey fold-up chair that was the same color 
as Tommy Bennet's braces, behind his cardboard sign that calmly 
announced: 

Lemonade and Fortunes Told 
50 cents each 
Respectively. 

It was an easy job. The rich folks from Leighton Way or 
Acorn Street would take their pristine wives out of their boxes and 
giggle superiorly to each other at the poor, little moppet asking them 
to spare a bit of change. Elijah gyppe the money was good too, and 
itoo little of it in the Dixie cups, or he gave them the lukewarm 
stuff with no ice in it or maybe with a dead fly floating around in it 
and if they asked their fortune, he would tell them they'd live in a 
whale with Captain Caveman for all he cared. But their money was 
good too, and it quickly went into the jam jar where he kept his 
money good for a chocolate milkshake at Lorna's each Friday night. 

Teenagers on dates would look at him hopefully, asking him 
to pass a verdict on their budding romances and would tip him a 
brand new nickel if he were to agree with their way of seeing it. 

Sometimes some of the crazy guys would come, the ones 
with beards down to their bony knees that he could bet were home 
to colonies of ants, things that were missing from the lost-and-found 
box at school, and even a couple of animals they swore were extinct 



77 



a long time ago. Elijah was careful with them, he didn't tell them a 
cute little story about marshmallow dinosaurs and living happily 
ever after, or what he knew they wanted to hear. He tried to really 
see them, and tell them, for what it was worth, the truth. 

Each Friday afternoon, he would fly up his front steps, past 
the dirty diapers and shattered whiskey bottles, and dump his empty 
lunch box and penmanship papers on his mattress and then he would 
go to the dump. It was all chaos, all the kids banging on barbecue 
grates and car fenders with their fists and running headfirst into 
anything of dirt and liberation from the impossibly long week of 
school. Elijah would sit, invisible to everyone, on the mustard and 
red-checked sofa with springs and fluff bubbling up all over, to 
count his earnings and nearly every other week he would have come 
up with, by some neat miracle, the $1.50 Lorna required. 

Lorna's was the best place. The stools sprung up like the 
weeds and wildflowers and hedge-plants that fenced in his school 
playground, and had real, squishy leather cushions, and spun around 
like a flying-saucer on the take-off. The counter was lined with 
chrome and was so clean and chaste, that the travelers who took in 
her homefries, chili con carne, and brewed pots of tea, would use its 
mirrors to pick their teeth on the sly. 



Mary Ziegle) 



78 



A Travelling Man: Hey Mister 



"Hey, Mister, have you ever heard of a flying machine?" 
Elijah asked the man who sat next to him at the counter of Lorna's 
Fine Roadhouse and Supperclub. Elijah knelt unstably on the twisty 
stools, to reach over the candy-striped straw in his chocolate 
milkshake. 

"Where would you ever want to go that you couldn't get to 
on foot?" the man asked him. 

"Over there," he said as he walked over to the screened win- 
dow, covered in June's early dew and the legs of perched mosquitos 
and biting elephant flies who waited for you to come out. Elijah 
pointed to the mountains that bordered the town, mountains the 
color of the Concord Grape Jelly you received with toast at diners. 
"I figure there has to be somewhere better than here in town. Places 
with meadows full of seashells and real roses and marigolds and 
dust from the stars, and places where there are wild horses that bust 
through barbed wire and whatever else they please and places where 
there are real, nice people like in the books of nursery rhymes at 
school." Elijah slurped up some milkshake and made wild animal 
noises with his straw. "So do you believe in flying machines? That 
there could be one, I mean?" 

"Maybe soon there will be. I sure wish there was one for 
me," the man said bitterly without realizing. 

"Oh, so you're a traveling man?" 

The man smiled between gulps of his cup of hot tomato 
soup and soggy croutons. "Well, I guess I am." 
"What's it like, Mister?" 

"There are sunsets better than anywhere and they're all for 
you. The bugs and fireflies get more like giants the later it gets. 
There are no doorbells to ring and no one is around to cut the grass 
or tell you what's a weed or a flower. Everything is always open, and 
at night packs of werewolves and bogeyman your parents tell you 
are pretend are all sleeping under the same sky as you. It makes you 
lonely though, lonely all the time." 

"It wouldn't be lonely if you had a friend, would it Mister, a 



79 



fellow traveling man?" 

"I'm sure I couldn't tell you, really." 

"If someone were to say, give you their lemonade collection 
money or from selling Girl Scouts, would you mind taking them?" 
"Only if they were a friend." 

"Well, Mister, you and I are going to be great friends." 



Mary Ziegler 



80 




Caitlin Berrigan 



81 



Sequential 



It started upon completion of his 

ascent to the North Country, 

and he emerged from the navy auto 

to suck down that air, the sharp 

pang of purity that rushed down his throat, 

carved a cavern in his chest and climaxed 

in a brilliant sunburst within his lungs. 

He watched the sunset that night, like 
so many nights before eased into his brain with orange 
haze. 

And he let that record clean his ears 
and (you know how it goes) commenced 

How it was! The cool mornings 

and the vividness with which the velocipede wore 

a vein into the road. And his limbs were 

spinning circles like his head so many times before 

and road rose with the waves and caressed 

his tires and it all unfolded before the 

radial inertial pattern of his spokes 

(the gears grow into the ground and 

June goes in the jaundice glow) 

You saw his hands, marred terminally 

by mechanics' milk. He wrenched, 

and he sweat in his brown boots. The machines would 

hardly roll and he excelled resolving 

mechanical trifles. The hairless blanched side 

of his forearm had a light dusting of potent black 

pollen-it highlighted his erupting veins, tiny 

midnight rivers on his muscle. His thumbs were 

worn bald, no ridges, but man, those wheels 

would roll, and they'd run off on a thousand 



82 



adventures round and true. And that made him 
happy, see. 

And there was the giant diaspora of 
human transmission that cascaded off the 
pine panel shelves. The wee wandering notes 
bleating from the speakers beside the mound of bound 

parcels of 
words. The bookcase integrated 

into the house, the wood and its tiny ripples of tawny 

that make FACES AT YOU 

AND THEY CONFUSE YOU YES THEY DO 

And the house, oh that solid trunk 

with a mere 2 panes of glass (through who 

you see to the lake you do) and an assembly 

of stones that, 50 years before, were plucked dripping 

from the cool waters and dragged up to warm him 

and form for him his house which housed 

His Mighty Brain (it did) 

And ooh when sun went down 
and night got cold, I'm told 
he ran to the ga-rage, to 
drum (boom boom)- 

let it all spill out in perfect time and rhythmic rhyme 
and swing 

boom- and swing he would 
and OH HOW SWEET! 

THE BEATING HANDS, THE DROPPING FEET! 
He laid it out like a golden street 
and rolled 

(his rhythms out) 
The new screen door 

crafted by his uncle the carpenter. Even if 

he eased it shut, the door would conjure a deep 



83 



oriental sound, crashing in a subtle swoosh at contact 
with the house. 

And there were things he didn't like so much. 
Like the neighbor he had never noticed, 
who slaughtered his beach, severing the fallen trees 
that had been placed there by nature and her nourishing 
erosion. 

There was the monstrous hut of unnatural color reamed 
into the earth up the beach, the alien green fields 
constructed for trivial games (for trivial drunken 

businessmen), 
and the drab drone of invading watercraft. 
BEASTS ARE EATING UP THE LAND LIKE SO 

MUCH MEAT 
KILL TREES WITH THEIR AUTOS, KILL FISH 

WITH THEIR FLEET 

But let us not dwell on such gloom. 

We still have this day, the late summer 

breeze that sends the blue mass squirming, 

the raven gliding, our sweat crystallizing into an 

earthy phosphorescence, our matted ground giving with 

each gentle caress, the roof snapping at the smattering 

of an acorn (whose home has just been lost), the 

velocipedes 
at rest like every particle in this place- 
the point in our existence that is wholly real. 



Will Glass 



84 



Portrait of the Wilderness 



Chain-saws silence, blue light of evening steals between the 
trees, and late forest workers hurry back to their isolated harbors of 
warmth. 

Trees thrash uncannily, dancing a limbo to the last fingers 
of sunlight fading in the face of a biting wind. A vole melts against 
the shadow of a tree trunk, jerking its head in nervous spasms. The 
wing beat of an owl makes it freeze, nose twitching, it backs slowly 
towards a bush and dives down a hole. 

A child turns on a creaky bed-frame, twisting the warm sheets 
around small limbs in a dream. The door bangs loosely. 

Twigs crack among dense trees, grass in the clearing flattens 
in the wind. A skinny cat slides into the shadow of a shed and the 
scream of a chicken, frantic flutter of feathers, shatters the quiet. 
Sleek orange shape steals off to devour its prize. 

Age, brooding, sits quietly by the hearth filled with charred 
embers, rubbing knobby hands in slow friction for warmth. Looks 
tiredly at flintlock rifle. 

Far away, a young couple sit up late in their own small cabin, 
fending off the chill of the encircling trees with the warmth of com- 
pany. 

Shutters slam, the wind howls out a lonely tune, shrieking 
into the emptiness. Slashing rain pelts isolated cabins in icy tor- 
rents, and an old man sits quietly as a child rolls over onto the 
orange cat at her side. 



Kim Ballard 



85 



Dancing Blindfolded 



Thoughts of absolute permanence 

Crashing down a thousand miles from the lake 

Where hopes live and dreams die 

In the primary spark of belief in the performance 

And the red, red dream 



Andrea Campbell 



86 



Whirl 



Spins with 
the dancing madness 
of long swirling 
arms and the 

giddiness that comes 

with the dawn 

whirl 
tell the story of 
fairy winds and 
dusty nights where breath 

becomes a mystery and 

night sings effervescant 
songs 
crack the silver 
fog with laser long stream 
sings with golden inertia 
exaltation longing notes 
gilded words 
spill 

the touch of 
years out your pink 
mouth and dream eyes 
red dawn and silver moon meld 

and she whirls. 



Julia Magnus 



87 



Soul Clap Its Hands and Sing 



As reality fell away 

his touch became an abstraction 

A dancer chained 

to the strict meter of time 

preparing for the moment 

when the music stops 

and the dance, released, 

goes on. 



Katharine Gilbert 




88 



The Watchtower Man 



Whom does the watchtower man spy, 
Go that I may, to him and see, 
And glance into his face, his eye, 
His mind, his soul, to see beauty. 

While he, returning my gay stare, 
Looks into me, and can but light 
The soul, made but of shame, I bear; 
Then he, knowing me, blesses his sight. 

The guilt, the blemish just left me, 
Tries too, but is damned to fail, 
Cursing my cold eternity; 

Back turned, mind on wealth and grail, 
Soul seeing both, it chooses the cross, 
Against the body, which blessedly lost. 



Chris Meserole 



89 



Kate Nesin 
90 



Palizado 



It appears like a wheel of bullets, 

this fence of pales, monoliths like bunched beans, 

snow peas, huddling the fires and food. 

Armies in an aerial view, rings of spears and arms, 

make a lens, round like the glass ones 

on those plastic cameras, images from 
the Empire State Building, looking down, so clean and 

clear. 

There are coiled bodies, knots of faces, 

spear-heads reminding like hands, ready match heads, 

giant stirring spoons. 

"Fire sticks" is a direct translation. 

The men outside, circling formation, 

and the others around the fires, face 

the shady hills with their round lenses. 

From farthest away, it could be a bull's eye, 
the home-and-fire-middle a smooth red target. 
The bullet-wheel shifts and opens to the north and south: 
repeating the blunt figures, circles, 
the match-spears, miniatures, like the bodies and the 
spoons, 

everything else, the trees that shade 
the shady hills are short, blunt crosses 
from this distance. 

Captains Underhill and Mason are in, 
entered from opposite sides; 

musket-fire ballooning from their sticks, they are 

standing 
in the compass openings, erect. 

The Pequot War, we are told, 



91 



set the tone for racial politics, and in 1637, 
Underhill was called a hero; there are paintings of him 
in photographs in books. 
His features are big, clean, and clear. 

The straw roofs and doors 

are standing up like fires, and they equal in height 
the muskets by themselves or the bushy crosses 
on all sides, a height now allowed 
above or below the ground. 



Kate Nesin 



92 




Orion Mo n toy a 



93 



Redemption 



Old Burnie 

Planting his crosses 

Across the West Virginia countryside 

Like poison ivy 

Strewn about- 

Groups of three, 

Making me itch 

Old Burnie 

Holier-than-thou 

Trying to relieve all that 

Damn Guilt. 



Sara Bright 



94 



Kim Ballard 



95 



The Ringleader 



Many cross the seas, 
To blast humanity. 

But now is the time to disregard the morals we have 
preached so hard. 

The Powerful will stumble. 

On the Fall they'll claw our knees. 

Step on up and feed me all your worries and disease. 

I'm your wax wing dealer - 

I won't sell it - it's all free. 

Step on up and feed me all your worries and disease. 

In lonely times and trials, 

It's service with a smile. 

For feeling down and feeling weak - 

In any form that you may seek. 

With my hand I lead the meek: 

Those for whom life cannot keep. 

The Scarred, the Sore, the Raped, the Mauled - 

The time has come to feed them all. 

The Powerful will stumble. 

On the Fall they'll claw our knees. 

Step on up and feed me all your worries and disease. 

I'm your wax-winged dealer - 

I won't sell it - it's all free. 

Step on up and feed me all your worries and disease. 

Forty years to Life per vile 
Of my Mindless Anarchy. 

Step right up and feed me all your worries and disease. 

Nathan Hetherington 
96 



Number 24 



He arrived with the drunkards 
(who were meeting up with more) 
and upon entering he was encountered 
by a young girl. 

She looked at him with eyes that were big 

and beautiful and she had made them red and big 

and he didn't think she knew it was him - 

but his Convictions rendered him 

useless to her and he 

suggested that his friend might be more of a sport 

for what she was interested in. 

(He's not much of a sport 

for he refrains. In his own way 

he only try to keep others from 

having the fun that he doesn't have.) 

And so deeper into the sins and smells and smoky sorts 

and upon a couch he found resort - 

but another girl with similar 

eyes deemed it necessary to sit on him - 

not a problem 

but SHE might object. 

But taking into account that he objects to HER 

He let the weary lass enjoy her seat 

away from seats with OTHER motives. 

He hadn't seen his company for while - 

he bet himself that they were 

off somewhere and he won five bucks 

that neither of them had. 

So to the ivories he slid 

and brushed the boy off 

(The boy was in a less than conscious state and didn't 

seem to be 
appreciating it as the fine piece of musical 
instrumentation that he found it to be.) 



97 



So he plays. 
And they listens. 

And he hates it when they do that: 

"Play this!" and "Play that!" 

"Play it your damn drunk self," he wants to say 

But he refrains. 

It's just his way. 



"Then remarks were made. 
And he didn't want to listen 
And the band it played. 
And he kind of wished he'd stayed" 
But he's glad he didn't. 



Nathan Hetherington 



98 



Mr. Crane s Refrigerators 



"Richard! You didn't stay in the cellar all night again, did 
you?" Mrs. Crane yelled down the basement steps. Richard Crane 
had slept downstairs on an old mattress for the past week because 
the refrigerators had wanted him to. A few months before, he had 
worn the same clothes for eight straight days when Major, the fridges' 
appointed leader, had complimented them. 

On his mattress, Crane yawned, stretched, then dragged 
himself upright. A blanket lay to one side. He had thrown it off 
three nights ago, when the fridges had decided to keep him warm 
with their motors, and forgotten to pick it up. Crane wondered 
how they, all very intelligent, couldn't ever figure out how much 
warmth he actually needed, and usually kept whirring away through 
the night until he woke up sweating. He stood, then walked word- 
lessly up the stairs and into the shower. After getting dressed he ate 
breakfast standing against the kitchen counter. 

"Richard!" his mother yelled from somewhere else in the 
house. "Where are you?" 

"In the kitchen," he replied. He heard her steps padding 
along the carpeted hall and prepared himself for another talk. 

"You know, it isn't healthy for you to spend all your time 
down there. You'll probably get sick from the dampness after a while." 

"It isn't damp," Richard said quiedy. He hated these con- 
versations. His mother wanted him to say anything but what he 
knew to be true. "The refrigerators keep things warm." 

"Now they're making sure you're comfortable," she said with 
incredulous flatness. "Richard, I really wish that you would try to 
find some kind of work. There are much better things for you to be 
doing than spending your time around a collection of old refrigera- 
tors. 

"This is my vocation. You remember how they always used 
to talk about vocations in church, and how you used to tell me that 
I should do whatever made me happy, because that's what God in- 
tended me to do? This is it. I'm helping people much more than I 
would as a carpenter or a veterinarian." 



99 



"I meant a job, for God's sake! I meant that if you wanted to 
be a bricklayer, be a bricklayer. Or if you wanted to start some kind 
of store or neuter cats, go right ahead. Something useful." 

"Haven't I explained to you that I'm trying to save human- 

ity? 

"Don't give me that garbage. Think about it, Richard. I fed 
you, clothed you, I was about to pay your way through college if 
you hadn't started this fridge nonsense a month before you were 
supposed to leave for school. After your father died I worked to 
make sure that you'd have a chance at all that. And you repay me by 
filling my basement with junk refrigerators and leaching off me. 
You don't' even act like a son. You don't help, you hardly talk to me 
except when forced, and you sit down there talking with a pile of 
kitchen appliances. Pushing the stupid things around, practically 
making dents in the basement floor. If you weren't my son I'd have 
you arrested." 

"They've told me over and over again that they aren't happy, 
that no refrigerator is happy. Major, the old one you put down there 
when we bought the new one, almost killed me. I convinced him 
not to, and that I'd help him if he let me go. He explained how he 
was unhappy living as a slave to humans, and that he wanted to 
start an uprising. I told him that I would help them..." 

"Just stop right there! I've made an appointment with a thera- 
pist for this afternoon, and if you don't go you'll have to find some- 
where else to live. I'm ending this discussion right here. Now go try 
and do something useful with yourself." 

Richard walked out of the kitchen, leaving a half-eaten slice 
of toast sitting on his plate, and opened the door to the basement. 
He went quietly down the steps, since he wasn't sure if any of the 
fridges were still asleep. Major rumbled at him as he reached the 
foot of the stairs. The seventies-style Amana clomped noisily across 
the floor, asking Richard how he was. On the way, he kicked Al, a 
heavyset deep freeze, to wake him up. 

"All right," Richard replied. 

Al jokingly punched Major in the handle, which he hated. 
Crane considered him the most intelligent of the 17-fridge group- 
he /Wbeen the first one to envision the Revolution- but was un- 



100 



nerved by his unbending seriousness, the shell of intensity he lived 
: in. No matter how much Richard prodded him, Major refused to 
learn a single dance step, even ones that the others had long ago 
: mastered. He enjoyed books, so over the years Crane had trans- 
ferred his entire bookcase downstairs, and was especially interested 
in George Orwell. Major had named himself after the pig revolu- 
tionary in Animal Farm; he liked the parallel. 

Major responded to Al by smacking him on his door, which 
opened from the top, and grunting angrily. Crane had always won- 
dered exactly how they were able to hit each other, because they had 
no real limbs besides their handles. He guessed that maybe they 
used something like telepathy. They could do real damage when 
they were angry, too. Years ago, Crane had seen two fridges get into 
a fight, each emerging with its body covered in dents. Major had 
kicked both of them out of the group afterward. 

The fridges gathered in a semicircle around Major. He be- 
gan with his usual rumble, making sure that they were all awake. 
Their language was made up of regular refrigerator noises, meaning 
that to most people, the meeting would have sounded like a lot of 
air conditioners badly in need of repair being hit repeatedly with a 
hammer. Richard had no idea why he was able to understand them, 
but the was thankful that he could. 

Every one of them was awake. Major started, "Today, if you 
remember, is the anniversary of my attack on Richard Crane, which 
is how we all came to be gathered in his basement. This is a day we 
must always remember, as it marks the beginning of the Revolution's 
first stage. I have thought deeply since we first moved here, about 
the future of us and our brethren, and also of humanity. Originally, 
I viewed our current situation as an unwelcome delay, but now I 
understand that, next to the Uprising itself, it is possibly the most 
important part of the Revolution. In this basement we have gained 
a culture, something before exclusive to humanity. I had thought 
that this could be a preview of a new cooperative era between hu- 
man and refrigerator, but unfortunately it is not. Despite Richard's 
efforts, humans continue to regard us as slaves, as dumb appliances 
created by them simply for their use. They will not listen to reason, 
they refuse to coexist with us as equals. Therefore, we shall not strive 



101 



for equality but for dominance. We will fight, we will win, and 
humanity will fall. Richard Crane and all those like him will live 
among us, not a humans but as fellow refrigerators in a world of 
equality. This is our Revolution, and let it begin today!" 

The other 16 immediately cheered, and began to stomp up 
and down on the floor. Crane felt sick to his stomach. It was too 
late, he could do nothing. His mother opened the door and shouted, 
"Your appointment's in 45 minutes!" She paused. "Could you stop 
that noise?" 

Crane groaned, then replied, "Sorry, I can't. I'll be up in a 
minute." He turned to Major and mouthed, "I've got to go, all 
right." Major opened his freezer door a little, which Crane under- 
stood to mean yes. 

His mother gave him the psychiatrist's address and he tried 
to explain things once more to her. "Do you remember that video 
of the refrigerators I showed you? How I translated their speech, 
how it was all about revolt? It's happening now." 

"Richard, please just go to the doctor's." His stomach sank, 
but he went out the door quietly and drove off toward Boston. 
Crane felt nauseated every time he passed a car and saw its driver's 
face. In a few days they all might be dead, he thought. He had 
failed. Arriving at the parking garage, he was thankful that he didn't 
have to face a human ticket taker. At the office, the receptionist 
directed him right away to Dr. Anderson's room. Crane sat down in 
an easy chair and waited for the doctor. He entered the room a few 
minutes later, leafing through a stack of notes, then sat in a chair 
opposite Crane. 

"Hello, I'm David Anderson." 

Crane stuck out his hand. "Richard Crane." 

"Nice to meet you. I just want to ask a some questions. I've | 
read a few notes concerning your situation, so I have an idea of why 
you're here. Do you want to say anything first? 

"Well... I have 17 very angry refrigerators in my basement. 
They're on the verge of revolt at the moment." 

"You have what many of them in your basement?" Dr. Ander- 
son asked, taken aback. He was used to some interesting patients,! 
but what Richard Crane said was, even for a psychiatrist, odd. 



102 



"Seventeen disgruntled iceboxes. I had eighteen until last 
1 winter, when Penny died." 
"Your wife?" 

"Are you crazy, doctor? I wouldn't marry if somebody paid 
me. Penny was one of them; a little old and worn down, but I still 
loved her. She was vintage fifties, your mother probably had a re- 
frigerator just like her, with those big bulging doors and chrome 
fittings." Crane wiped a tear from underneath one eye. Penny's death 
had been hard enough for him then, but now, six months later, 
once he had been able to really think about it, her passing hurt him 
even more. He knew grief was a selfish emotion- his mother had 
told him that many times when older relatives passed away- but he 
was unable to discard it. Even now, with the knowledge that the 
man in front of him was as good as dead, he couldn't get it out of his 
mind. 

"I know this may seem a mite inconsiderate, abrupt, but I 
like to use a first session to get a good overview of my patient. I'd 
like some facts about you and your condition, the real reason you 
came here. " 

"My mother made the appointment." 

"Your mother is very worried about you. She says that you're 
delusional. Now..." 

"I should have guessed before. She wants the basement, she 
doesn't care about them, their needs, how they must be treated. 
Don't cut me off, doctor! I'd rather be at home with my refrigera- 
tors, doing something useful. A refrigerator is a wonderful appli- 
ance, the noblest of any kitchen. Where would we be without a 
refrigerator? Yet we show them no gratitude. They're going to re- 
volt! It'll be like the Bolsheviks in Russia. They are about to rise up, 
and who will stop them? Nobody. The truth is, power lies not with 
us but with the refrigerators who allow us to subsist. I decided to 
show them proper respect, to reward their sacrifices. I have a con- 
science, Doctor, my conscience forbids slavery, and how else are the 
refrigerators held but as slaves. I taught them to dance. They have 
already made excellent progress- a few can waltz, slowly and clum- 
sily, but with promise. I am giving them culture. A dancing refrig- 
erator is a happy one, and what's more it keeps them fit. When a 



103 



refrigerator is good and strong it keeps its contents much colder, 
and actually requires less electricity." 

"So you're training them to be better refrigerators?" 

"No, no. Of course not. I'm trying to keep them from kill- 
ing us all. One of them attacked me 5 years ago, and told me that he 
planned to lead a refrigerator revolt against humanity. I convinced 
him to wait, that I would gather a group of refrigerators and help 
them, and at the same time I would convince people that they de- 
served better treatment. I did gather 17 refrigerators in my base- 
ment, and I did help them, but I was unable to convince a single 
human being that they are our equals. So this morning Major, their 
leader, the one who tried to kill me, spoke to them and set the 
Revolution in motion. 

Crane paused, sitting back down. He had stood in front of 
it, gesturing and pushing his face almost into Dr. Anderson's. The 
doctor spoke: "Mr. Crane, may I please ask you a few more ques- 
tionsr 

"No, you may not! I'm leaving now, and before I go I'll say 
one more thing: I have tried to save you all, but I could not turn the 
tide alone. Perhaps there is still a way to forestall the Revolution, if 
we teach them all how to dance, give them some reward. Maybe the 
solution is that simple: until all the world's refrigerators dance hap- 
pily, the Revolution is inevitable. But, that will not happen. Hu-i 
manity has already proved itself too stubborn for reason. They will 
remember me. I will watch safely, tolerated as the one human whc 
gave them what they deserved, while refrigerators everywhere dance 
their oppressor, humankind, begging mercy beneath. Good bye 
doctor." 



Nathan Littlefield 



104 



Snapshots of the Past 



As a child, he was slight, with gangly arms and overly long 
legs that were the subject of many jokes among his schoolmates. 
He lived with his family in a moderately large house in Marshfield, 
which his mother kept decorated with somber furniture and heavy 
pictures. People often remarked that the place had the feel of a 
colonial museum. 

"Cory," his mother called him from the kitchen. He fin- 
ished scratching out the last sentence of his homework, capped his 
pen carefully, and rose to go to the kitchen. "You should be in bed 
by now. It's past ten." Cory had expected her to say this, and was 
ready with his usual vain plea. But she hustled him off to his room, 
saying he would be tired the next day and it wouldn't be her fault. 

He changed slowly, dreading the large bed and tightly 
stretched sheets that felt like a tomb. Cory stood at the window a 
long time, looking out onto the field that was now misty and indis- 
tinct in the moonlight, and telling himself that tonight when he got 
into bed it would not happen, that he would go straight to sleep. 
But he knew it would happen anyway. 

He climbed under the covers carefully, scrunching his eyes 
up tightly and trying to focus on what had happened that day. But 
it didn't help; his mind went to work like a mechanical clock stub- 
bornly set in its ways, and the tears slithered from his eyes as the 
thought of death crept through his mind. Unable to stop his ram- 
bling mind in the lonely darkness, he thought with terror of how 
someday, quite soon in the reckoning of grown-ups, his parents 
would die and leave him alone in the world. And then he would die 
someday also, become unconscious forever. Forever seemed like a 
long time in Cory's mind; too long. And then sometime much later 
when he had been gone a long long while, the sun would burn itself 
out and the whole universe would disappear and there would be 
nothing. But "nothing" was too big a concept for Cory's mind to 
grasp, and so most of his reckoning stopped there and began over 
again, wracking his body with shivers of terror. 

Morning stole into the room, creeping with light fingers 



over the tangled bedcovers where Cory's small body lay sprawled in 
sleep. Jerry opened one eye and then shut it again tightly, trying to 
snatch a minute more of sleep before facing the tiresome prospects 
of the day. But the sun won the battle, prying under his eyelids and 
forcing him to roll over and stretch, and then rise to draw back the 
large curtains, a full admission of defeat. 

Cory squinted out of the window casement and watched 
his dog rolling around in the dew-soaked grass. The day was going 
to be hot. He dressed quickly and stomped down the stairs. Becca, 
his older sister, was already having breakfast. "You're late. Go wake 
up Jeff." Jeff was thirteen, the middle child, and two years older 
than Cory. He never got up without being yelled at. Cory clam- 
bered back up the stairs and opened Jeff's door. "It's past seven. 
Get up." Jeff opened his eyes blearily and frowned. 

"Get out of my room - and don't tell me what to do." 

"Get up," Cory said, and left the room. 

"Jeff. Cory. Come on!" Becca was calling them from the 
school playground. "Let's go!" She ran off ahead towards the Cleary 
estate where they played every day after school. It had been de- 
serted for a long while, and they were free to roam among the tow- 
ering beech trees, swinging from the limbs and dropping into the 
scraggly grass. Huge lawns surrounded the ruins of an old house of 
which only piles of lumber now remained. They climbed up on 
these, peering into holes and building small forts among the rubble. 
The place had the feel of an adventure-land, deserted and wild. 
Scattered about were large berry bushes from the time when gar- 
deners had come daily to tend the grounds. Now they were over- 
grown, slowly spreading out their roots to conquer the lawn, but 
they still bore fruit - blueberries, pears, apples, and chokecherries -I 
on which the children feasted until they felt sick. 

The three of them lay in the long grass of the back yard, 
looking up at the night sky and listening to the chirping of crickets.. 

"What's it like to die?" Cory asked in a hushed voice. 

"I don't know. Why don't you try it and find out." Jeff said 
cynically. 



106 



"Shut up." Becca turned over and leaned her chin on her 
j hand. She had beautiful eyes - green with a ring of hazel at the 
center. "I think it's like being on a plane that's falling, just gliding 
down. You slip into unconsciousness." 

Cory looked up at the stars stretching out above him, mil- 
lions of points of light against a black emptiness. He knitted his 
brow. "How can a plane fall?" 

"An airplane, stupid," Jeff sneered. 

"Oh." They lay quietly for a while, eating the sun-warmed 
chokecherries they had picked that afternoon. Cory let the juice 
slide slowly down his throat. "Well, couldn't it also be like being on 
a plane with the grass waving in the wind - and as you die the sun 
dims and the wind becomes stronger until it just blows you away?" 
He got no answer. Becca and Jeff had stopped listening. "Or maybe 
it's not so beautiful." The sound of crickets wrapped around them 
in the darkness and the long grass prickled their backs. The trees 
rustled. 

"Kids, it's time to come in. Cory, you should be in bed 
now." Their mother's voice wavered out from the lighted doorway, 
breaking the spell. Cory rose reluctantly. 

"All right. I'm coming." 



"Mom, can I have the car tonight?" Cory burst into the 
kitchen and flung down his school bag. 

"No. I need it. What for?" She continued making dinner 
without turning round. 

"I have a date." 

"At your age?" His mother turned around. 
"Mom, I'm seventeen. Becca was going out on dates in the 
sixth grade." 

"I was not!" Becca walked into the kitchen. He'd forgotten 
she was home from college on vacation. 

"Never mind." His mother turned back to the dinner. "I 
guess you can." 

"Can what?" Jeff yelled from the living room. "I hope you 



107 



didn't say he could have the car. You promised it to me yesterday." | 
"Forget it." Cory left the kitchen. 

"Your mom wouldn't let you have the car?" Erin looked 
over at Cory. 

"Watch where you're going." Cory was always antsy with 
someone else driving. "No. Jeff had already asked." They had j 
taken Erin's parent's car with no trouble. She was an only child, and 
for the thousandth time Cory wished he was too. 

"Aren't siblings wonderful," Erin laughed. 

The siren of a police car shrieked directly behind them and ; 
the red and blue lights danced through the car. 

"Shit." Cory slammed his fist on the dashboard. "You were 
speeding." 

Erin pulled over and rolled down the window angrily. The 
cop strolled up, saw that she was impatient, and took even more 
time. 

"Do you know why I pulled you over, Ma'am?" he drawled. 
"To invite me to the policemen's ball," Erin snapped sarcas- 
tically. 

"Policemen don't have balls," he replied without thinking. 
He stood there, turning a deeper and deeper shade of red. 

"That's another fifty dollars, honey," he snapped. "Any- 
thing else you wanted to say?" He raised his eyebrows a half inch. 
Cory turned to look out his window, hiding a smile. 

"Buuussted," he singsonged as the cop strutted back to his 

car. 

"Shut up," Erin replied, starting to laugh. It was conta- 
gious. 

"You know Leena?" Erin asked. Leena was a girl at the high 
school who was very antisocial. She dressed in complete black ev- 
ery day. 

"Yeah. Why?" 

"Don't you feel sort of bad for her? I mean, she has nc 
friends at all. 

Want to ask her to come to a movie with us tomorrow?" 



108 



"No, but we can if you want." Cory shuddered at the pros- 
pect of going anywhere with such a morbid person. 

"Maybe she's not as bad as she seems. I'll call her." 

"Thank you so much for asking me!" Leena paraded be- 
tween them, talking loudly. She had on a long flowy black dress 
with patterns of lacy white flowers scattered over it. The dress opened 
in a V down the back, revealing her smooth spine and pale skin. 
Black stockings smothered her legs, leading into thick heeled black 
shoes with bright silver buckles. Her naturally crimped red-brown 
hair was flung across her shoulders. "I've never been to a movie 
with friends before." The humming of an airplane sounded over- 
head, and suddenly Leena fell to her knees, covering her head with 
her arms. 

"What's wrong?" Erin glanced nervously at Cory. The sound 
faded away into the distance with the plane, and slowly Leena rose, 
her eyes wide with the look of a hunted animal. 

"I hate them," she whispered. "Let's get into the theater." 
She took her seat between them and declined the popcorn Cory 
offered. "I wish they'd make it gray or something. It's just too 
bright to eat that way." Cory rolled his eyes. 

"What do you hate?" Erin asked. 

"Shhh." Leena cowered in her seat. "Planes," she hissed. 
"They're like death...." 

"What do you mean?" Erin raised her eyebrows. 

Leena moved towards her. "It's the noise. When a plane 
goes by the noise just grows and grows, like it's falling out of the sky, 
and I can't breathe. It's like I'm suspended in panic. My mind 
focuses on a picture." She glanced around. "A silent picture of a 
bomb crashing to the earth, straight down onto me." Cory mouthed 
the word 'crazy' to Erin. "It's like a disease. Once the fear grips you, 
it just stays there eating away. I mean, if people kill each other all 
the time in wars, then couldn't a bomb come flying out of the air at 
any moment?" 

"Let's go." Erin rose and started to push her way out of the 
theater. Cory followed. 

"But what about the movie?" Leena asked as she hurried 



109 



out at their heels. 

"Some other time," Erin replied hurriedly. They began 
walking towards home. 

Leena put on a pair of black sunglasses that completed her 
costume. "Do you think I should dye my hair black or would that j 
be too... drastic?" 

"Nothing's too drastic for you," Cory said under his breath. 

"No," she continued. "I think that would be too much." 
She rambled on until they had deposited her at her house. 

"Sick maniac," Cory muttered when he was alone with Erin. 
"The plane's going to get me!" he squeaked in a high voice, pre- 
tending to cower on the ground. 

"Stop it," Erin laughed. "It's sad." 

Cory shook his head. "It's sick." 



Cory walked into his small dorm room, mopping the sweat 
from his face. The room was full of half-packed boxes. School hac 
gotten out a few days ago and Cory was planning on going home ir 
a week and trying to find a job for the summer. He switched on hi; 
message machine. It was the only way his parents could reach hin 
at college. 

"Cory? It's Mom. Your dad was hurt in a car crash. Couk 
you come home. We need you." The voice was distant, like th< 
ghost of a memory. Cory switched off the machine, picked up hi 
phone, and dialed home. After twelve dismal rings, he slammec 
the phone back in place. Then, with one sweep of his arm, h' 
hurled it across the room. It smashed into his bureau, knockin; 
down a picture of his family. 

Cory drove home the next day and met his mother in th 
kitchen. "Go in and see him. He's in the living room." Line 
seemed to have been carved into his mother's face since he last sav 
her. 

His dad had been strong and proud, always carrying hin:; 
self erect. Cory walked slowly into the room, his steps dragging 
His father sat in an armchair in a dark corner. Now he leant on 

~TTO~ 



cane, walking painfully about the house. Cory stayed with them 
through the summer. Becca was off working - some kind of tempo- 
rary modeling job, she said. She sent letters saying she wished she 
could be there, but gradually the letters dwindled. Jeff had gotten 
into drugs and was somewhere in New York City. They didn't hear 
from him. 



"Can I have the paper, honey?" Cory sat at the kitchen 
table with a cup of coffee. Lauren, his wife, handed him the paper. 
Cory glanced over it and an article about Marshfield caught his eye: 
Yesterday, June 12th, two children, Mike Levin and Jeremy Roate, 
ages eleven and thirteen respectively, were kidnapped from the Geary 
estate in Marshfield. They went there to play direcdy after leaving 
the public middle school accompanied by a third child, Chris Evans, 
age ten. According to Evans, they were held up by a male, about 
thirty years old, who was carrying a handgun. Evans was allowed to 
leave but his two friends were forced to remain. A search is being 
conducted but as of now nothing has been discovered. The estate 
has been deserted for over forty years and it was therefore unlikely 
that anyone would be there to help them. The estate has been closed 
off and in the future will not be open to the public. 
Cory sat staring at the article. 
"What's wrong?" Lauren was watching him. 
Cory shook his head. "It's the Cleary estate in Marshfield 
where I used to play with my brother and sister - there were two 
I kids kidnapped there yesterday." He looked at Lauren without see- 
ing her. "I played there every day when I was a kid." 

"Mom, Ben and I are going out to play," Lynne said as she 
ran through the kitchen. 

Cory looked up. "I want to go back and visit Marshfield. I 
could show you where I lived - it was right by the estate, but it was 
safe back then." 



The car sped along the wet road. There had just been a 
shower but now the sun had reclaimed its position in the sky, float- 



111 



ing among the clouds in an orange haze. Sunlight glistened off the 
water droplets that coated the trees. "I know it's on the right," Cory 
said as he looked around. 

"You lost?" A man with a receding hair line but a benign 
face stopped his car next to them. 

Cory leaned his head out of the window. "No. I'm just 
looking for a house I lived in twenty-five years ago." 

The man's face erupted into a smile. "Welcome back!" 

"Here it is." Cory parked the car at the top of a gravel 
driveway and the kids jumped out, their legs stiff from the long 
ride. The house sat at the bottom of a steep hill surrounded by 
forest. It gave the impression of sitting in a bowl. 

"There didn't use to be trees around. It was all fields when 
I was a kid." Cory walked down the stone steps that slanted across 
the hill. Two large orange-blossom trees overshadowed the hollow, 
permeating it with a strong sweet fragrance. The steps were matted 
with old, wet leaves. Cory looked more closely at the house. "I 
don't think anyone's living here right now." He looked around but 
no-one was listening. Lauren was looking down the driveway where 
there was more of a view and Ben and Lynne were chasing each 
other in circles. Cory peered in one of the windows. The house 
was the same: the large fireplace with its blue Dutch tiling and the 
bow window that stretched across the dining room. Except now 
there was no furniture. Garbage was scattered about the yard anc 
overturned lawn chairs sat rusting in the driveway. 

"It's deserted," Cory whispered. "It's like a neglectec 
memory sitting here waiting for me." 

"Deep. That's deep." Ben had snuck up on him unnoticec 
and stood looking up with a slightly mocking expression dancing ir 
his eyes. 

As they rolled away, Cory watched the sky unfold abov 
him as the road unraveled before him. It was the pale blue of ail 
autumn day, so pale that Cory felt it might fade from before hij 
eyes. But just as he thought he might lose it, the shade deepened 
slightly, burning against the outline of the trees on the horizon. 



112 



Cory sat quietly, listening to the hiss and pop of the fire and 
watching the showers of sparks fly into the air. They settled on the 
blackened brick at the back of the fireplace, glowing like cat's eyes. 
White light reflected in from the banks of snow outside the pol- 
ished windows, and Cory squinted slightly, adding to the masses of 
wrinkles accumulated around his eyes. A calico cat lay curled on a 
chair, and behind, a picture of his wife and children beaming into 
the camera sat on the piano. Cory held a pile of photographs in his 
hand, fingering the frayed edges and shuffling them like a deck of 
cards. He arranged his memories methodically: an evening under 
the stars with the shifting of breeze in the trees, a nervous date with 
a girl lost track of long ago, a small theater torn down to make room 
for a mall. He sat patiently, waiting for the next photograph to add 
itself to the pile. 



Kim Ballard 



113 



Bottlecaps 



my mother's bottlecaps 

from the soda company contest 

lie scattered on her desk like raindrops 

she keeps waiting 

to win the dream vacation 

and often wins odds and ends: 

a free soda, a shoelace, a coupon 

she is a partial winner 

she tells me 

her father was a Vegas gambler 
her mother a rambling pianist 
and nothing equals 

driving home from the drugstore 
with her unopened bottle 
of possibilities 



Kate Zangrilli 



114 



Bluegrass 



Five years ago, I came home from school to find my mother 
sitting on the roof of the neighbor's garage. She was reading The 
Mystery, Power and Intrigue of the CIA: A Comprehensive Guide to 
Americas Top Secret. 

"Give me a hand, Jill. I can't climb down with all these 
books." As her words flew down to me, she threw five hard-cover 
library books over the side of the roof. She swung down a near-by 
tree, saying, "I looked out the window this morning and saw these 
books on the Potter's garage," I imagined the books perched against 
the black shingles like birds on a drainpipe. "Noah Potter and his 
spy manuals," she sighed. 

She told me to return them to Noah Potter, who was in my 
class at school. I liked him as he thanked me in his quiet, embar- 
rassed way. 

Five years later, I hated him when he arrived breathless on 
my doorstep. 

"You mother isn't coming back! I saw her get up and brush 
her hair as usual, but when she left, she looked the place over one 
last time," Noah exclaimed, waving his binoculars. 

My mother used to say he knew when we went to the bath- 
room. 

"Get out of here," I spat, "Now." 

Noah walked backwards all the way home, watching my 
flaring eyes. I ran upstairs to convince myself he'd been lying. I 
couldn't find her suitcase. Three days later, after my father had 
called the police and acknowledged that she had deliberately "dis- 
appeared", I did not think about my mother; I thought instead of 
my hatred for Noah Potter. 

Did you ever think, sweet mother of mine, that your leav- 
ing would make me tear up Mrs. Potter's roses in the ink-shadowed 
night, or soap up Noah's windows? 

Strange things act as medicines, and so I tell you the story 



115 



of the summer after you left. When I need to hear your voice, I find 
it in my own; this genetic heritage your only legacy. Strange things 
act as medicines. Maybe your star, long conjoined with the sun of 
tragedy, broke loose. I, too, will break loose. I will tell my own 
healing. 

On the second full moon of the month, hence a blue moon, 
it smells like hot dogs and charcoal. I throw two suitcases into the 
trunk of our car. Dad hums, perfecting the role of the absent-minded 
father, wearing his cotton-candy blue fisherman's cap and the smile 
he might save for a senile relative in a nursing home. 

"You're sure about this cheerleading camp, honey?" he asks 
as he shuts the trunk. He uses his kindly-grandfather voice, the 
voice with nothing in-between the lines. "Sure you can't just jump 
around at home?" 

"Dad, I think we've been over this. Cheerleading is a skill, 
not just jumping around. If I want to make the team, I've got to 
work at it!" 

"OK, Jill. OfT to Kentucky. I just wish they had cheerleading 
camps in Pennsylvania; that's all. I don't like you so far away," he j 
sighs dutifully. 

I look back at our house and say to my father, "I think it's 
for the best, really," but he does not answer, because, tickle, tickle, 
fickle tickle, I am touching territory away from the concrete, and 
my father no longer talks in the abstract. The art of abstraction is 
my father's mistress, meant to be secretly believed in but never ar- 
ticulated. After you left, he preferred to like the tangible. He now 
prefers to delight in nuts and bolts, car parts, roller coasters. He 
prefers to love motors and broken clocks; he will no longer read s| 
novel or visit a museum. 

We climb into the blue Chevy and my father says, "Yoi 
don't even know anyone in Kentucky, Jill, except that friend fron 
grade school who moved down there somewhere. Right?" 

"Oh. I'd forgotten about her. You're sure you don't mine 
me leaving for other reasons? I'll stay home if you don't want to bej 
alone." 

He does not answer. 



116 



Dad sometimes blamed it on Chuck Berry and the emer- 
gence of rock & roll. Other times he blamed it on her blonde hair. 
When he came home late, he blamed it on the fact that he had left 
the gas tank near empty when she had asked him repeatedly to bring 
it home full. Sometimes I think he blamed it on me, but he never 
said so and I never asked. Usually, he didn't blame it on anybody 
because he didn't believe it and came home evenings expecting to 
catch her shadow shifting across the kitchen floor. 

We drive across miles and miles of interstate, black ribbons 
against the earth, all leading to the Bluegrass state, black strands of 
hair on maps, all leading to a tangle nowhere in particular. We stop 
at a small hotel where I collect the thin bars of complementary soap. 
In the morning, we are once again two intersections of chemicals 
and dust, taking insignificant routes south. Somewhere along the 
morning-bathed highway we pass a sign glittering in the sun which 
exclaims, "Welcome to Kentucky, The Blue Grass State." O, Ken- 
tucky. I tell my father it looks like the dawns early light of a patriot's 
hymn, but he keeps on driving. 

I know why Mom left. Mom left because the dishwasher 
had broken, and she left because Dad had brought the gas tank 
home empty again. Mom left because it was spring, and because 
the geraniums bloomed and bled red all over the porch. Mom left 
because the moon was bright and because she could, because she 
had read a sad story in the newspaper that morning. She left be- 
cause Dad was a boring man and she was still a beautiful woman. 
Silly, boring, brilliant man, my mother's leaving had nothing to do 
with rock&roll. 

We pull up before the small college where America's Fore- 
most Cheerleaders gather for Practice, Fun and Cheers! I take my 
suitcases up the front stairs. I wave as he leaves, his car shrinking to 
a speckle on the retreating road. 

The women in our family are always running away. My 



117 



grandmother, who neither my mother or I ever knew, bore my 
mother in St. Mary's Home For Un-Wed Mothers three states away 
from her alleged hometown, leaving her daughter a one-word legacy: 
Ava. Ava was my mother's name and my middle name and some- 
times Mom would wonder where she came from out loud, and some- 
times we would imagine that not knowing was better. We joked 
that Ava was the lovely voice of the lady on the tupperware com- 
mercials. 

I enter the hall and a short, athletic woman asks my name. 
"Jill Lane" I tell her. She looks through her "L" index cards twice. 

"You are not registered here. Do you have a receipt of your 
registration?" By now the hall is becoming crowded. "Step aside. 
We'll see what we can do." 

I nod and step outside. I am alone in Kentucky with no 
money and no place to stay. I carry my suitcases down the stairs. 

My mother tried not to run away for those first eighteen 
years; she studied what she had to study and married who her adopted 
parents told her to marry. But my mother had the banshee blood ol 
a mystery mother, and scattered like fairy dust on a clear night ir 
June. 

A pick-up truck rolls into the lot and a young woman jump.' 
out wearing cut-off jean shorts and a white tee-shirt splattered witl 
grease. She looks right at me and cries, "Jill, you little hellion!' 
Five years ago, when Kate Cassidy moved to Kentucky, she wa 
overweight and soft-spoken. She is now tall and wiry, with a louc 
and wildly electric smile. She picks up both suitcases and tosse 
them into the truck. I climb into the passenger seat and pick up he 
pack of cigarettes. 

When I was still in school, I skipped around commitment 
like a rock across pond water. I kept the class treasury, quit, playe 
softball for a year intensely, and then I quit that too. I wrote for th:l 
newspaper for a while, danced for seven years, and then I formed 
rock&roll group which fell apart before I could quit. I have m 
mother's rich alto voice, and whenever I'd fought with my fathc 



118 



and sat by my window feeling abused and alone, I'd talk to myself 
with my mother's voice, saying my name over and over again. When 
I closed my eyes, my voice was my mother's soft hands running 
down my temples. When at night I sang myself to sleep, my voice 
was my mother's spontaneous laughter gliding in and out of my 
room, a jimmy of joy caught in an old Irish lullaby. 

"So your Dad bought the whole thing?" Kate asks. 

"Kit and caboodle," I reply. "I called the Cheerleading As- 
sociation of America and sent away for the brochure, bought myself 
some pom-poms and asked my father for the registration fee." 

"Why did you pick cheerleading? He knows you were never 
a cheerleader." 

"It was the first camp in Kentucky I could find. Besides, he 
was so embarrassed that he didn't know I was a cheerleader he didn't 
even comment." 

"Christ," Kate says. 

The women in my family are a tribe of nomads. We were 
the frontiersmen who cut across America, carving ghost towns out 
of the wilderness until we reached the far blue ocean in the west. 
Along the way, the ones who built the banks and planted the or- 
chards stayed behind, but we pushed on, we who were not so sed- 
entary, feeling our blood grow cold, and our pulse twitch uneasy if 
we stayed in one place too long. Funny how nowadays a stranger 
without roots makes the sedentary folk wary. Who can say that 
America has lost her frontiers? We have a new frontier to saw open. 
The explosion of the steam engine has replaced the rumble of bi- 
son, but the frontiers span other planes, more plains. "We move," 
Kate Cassidy said with a twinkle and a wink, "because we have to." 

Kate Cassidy has unpacked my belongings into her room. 
'Okay, Jill, let me be brief. I haven't told you much in my letters. 
Your mom takes a hike, and you send me a novel; if my mom moved 
to the moon, I might mention it." 

"Your letters are all about David." I say petulandy. 

"My letters are all about David. Anyway. My parents are 



119 



no longer working with Gideon's Bible. No more Gideon's Bible 
stuff. Well, actually, we've got boxes of them in the basement, but," 
she laughs mirthlessly, "my parents are realtors. We sell houses of 
the rich and famous, to the rich and gullible. My parents are some- 
times home, but are usually out selling big houses. So we get to do 
whatever we want, except when I'm working on my photos." 

After you left, I noticed the way our language and literature 
decries the nomad, but cannot ignore him. I noticed the way words 
which define movement, such as "errant" which means "wander- 
ing, roving" include a second definition, in this case, "erring" which 
bespeak negativity. Biblically, Cain, the murderer, is expelled and 
forced to wander. Conscripted freedom: that is Cain's punishment. 

Kate Cassidy makes photographs where she combines or 
eliminates different objects in a print to her client's satisfaction. 
Once a client wanted to sell an old, dignified house. Kate hung 
pictures through the house of the house: the house when it was first 
built, the house in the 1800s, the house in the 1920s, the house ir 
the thirties, in the forties, and so-on. She varied the types of can, 
she parked outside to give her pictures a time frame. In other print; 
of this house, famous people casually appeared doing ordinary things 
She wanted the house to have a story that appealed to anyone, anc 
the only story that the house really had - that the previous owne 
had hung himself in the back room - would appeal to only a quirk] 
few. So Kate Cassidy made her own stories. James Dean stood or 
the porch, looking west and smoking a cigarette; JFK and his brothe 
played catch in the backyard, and Emily Dickinson carried lemon 
ade out the front door. Kate blew her prints up to huge sizes, framec 
them and hung them. The house which stood on the market fo I 
one year at a mediocre price, sold for an extravagant sum two week 
later. 

"If you look at my pictures," Kate Cassidy said, "you'll se 
there's not too much to them: no deep meanings, no new ways c 
interpreting space, no innovative definitions of fuscia or melodra 
matic symbols of surviving loss." For a moment she looked almosjj 
sad, contemplative. "There is one thing, though, that makes m| 



120 



pictures art." I waited as she gazed down at a picture of James 
Dean. "I've got one helluva cast of characters! And they do some 
surprising things!" 

Why did you go, sweet mother of mine? If I asked you, you 
would not be able to tell me. The inexplicable itch in your blood 
used to be understood that way: people said you had wild blood. 
Now they credit wild genes. I personally think that nomads wan- 
der and we wild women roam because we believe in destiny, a mal- 
leable, ductile destiny, and we believe that by chasing, we'll have a 
better chance of catching our dreams. There it is now, the hollow 
ring of a train's whistle. And there, the rumble of wheels over cen- 
tury-old track. The whistle sounds again. It called my mother and 
stirs my own blood. You hear it softly at first, so softly you imagine 
you invented it, like the imagined echo off raindrops. It grows 
louder, and you begin to feel it, like the tremor of the river of the 
tale twice-told. Does it ever call you back? 

1 1 

At six-thirty-seven the following morning, Kate storms into 
our room. 

"Guess what?" she cries, waking me. "We're getting part- 
; time jobs at FunWorld, Lexington's amusement park! For the next 
three weeks FunWorld is hosting a circus, and it needs extra teenag- 
ers to help." 

"Great. I love shoveling elephant waste. You know that's 
what we're going to be doing." 

"You might. But I'm working with the owner's son. Gold 
re his eyes, with green streaks like a tiger's, and he has blonde hair, 
bright as cut hay. I met him when I was walking over by the park. 
Sparkle, sparkle, a smile in his eyes, and I've sold my life for mini- 
mum wage." 

"What about that Dave person?" 

"I love Dave. We're getting engaged this summer. I just 
thought the owner's son was good-looking. Okay?" 

The wrong in abandonment lies in the insensitivity to those 
eft behind. It exceeds the wrong of a broken promise or an act of 



i 

a 



121 



high robbery, because it is a crime committed against those closest 
to you. I see it as the most complete form of betrayal, and the 
safest. The one who leaves isn't the one left behind. 

Kate sends me to Dave's house while she works in her dark- 
room. She tells me I must convince him to seek employment with 
us at the park. I ring Dave's doorbell. No one answers. I begin 
walking back to Kate's house when someone flings open the door. 

"Get back here!" he calls, "Get back here this instant!" I 
hesitate. "Young lady! Young lady! If you will not do it for me,; 
then do it for your country!" I laugh, feeling laughter spread like a; 
strange medicine through me. 

"I'm Kates friend, Jill. I am here to convince you to joid 
the circus," I explain. 

He slams the door in my face. One minute later, he open: 

it and asks me in. 

His hair sticks up in several places and he wears flaring re< 
pajamas which have stars, comets and bright blue birds on them 
We walk up to his room which is cluttered with books all over th 
floor, papers and paper air-planes, soda bottles and stamps. Star 
glow above my head; part of his face disappears behind a low-hang 
ing planet. 

He explains them away, "I was bored, so I cut stars fror 
glow-in-the-dark paper. Then I hung them from my ceiling usin 
clear floss. I arranged them in their actual constellations." Bi 
these stars do not go away. They hang, beautifully, and make h 
room explode into galaxies. 

"Wow," I say. 

We talk about stars. Imagine a conversation about stai 
Imagine a room with stars hanging from its ceiling. The world fl 
you must also jump up roundly into constellations. 

The policeman has dimmed all of the lights in the park aii 
locked the gates, leaving one side door unlocked down by the el 
groves. Kate insists that we stay for a midnight snack with the c 
cus folk who have spread out tents in the groves. Kate and Alex, tk 
owner's son, have gathered all the teenagers for a game. The g I 



who walks the tight- rope, two mimes, a clown, and a juggler sit in a 
circle. Everyone's face is pale without their white powder or stage 
make-up, except for Kate's which flushes red with laughter and Alex's, 
which has a ruddy glow. 

Alex is beautiful. He has a face of strong straight lines, a 
lean body like the letters of his name: crisp alignments, sharp, an- 
gular definitions, a proportion like the tall, slim "1" in the middle 
and a uniqueness like the "x" at the end. Oh he's tall; it surprises me 
when he's close to me how tall he is, because from a distance he's 
just a few inches taller than me; his lips would touch my eyes. He 
has lazy blue eyes, nothing sharp; they're a long, slow burn and a 
diligent gaze. Kate Cassidy likes him because he is externally beau- 
tiful, and a flipped version of Dave, who internally is caverns and 
caverns of beauty. 

"This is a game I learned from a girl in San Jose," Alex says 
quietly. "We go around in a circle and choose Truth or Dare. For 
example, let's say it's Kate's turn. She'll choose Truth. Then we ask 
her a question, and she has to answer it. We try to think of the most 
embarrassing question we can." The acrobat, who looked about 
fifteen, laughed. "Then we go to, what's your name?" Alex asks 
me. 

"Jill." 

"Then, say Jill chooses Dare. We dare her to do something 
extraordinary." 

"Like walking across a tightrope?" The acrobat suggests, 
inclining her head gracefully to one side, like a question mark, and 
caressing Alex with her shining brown eyes. Alex replies impas- 
sively, "No. Like sticking her head in a toilet." 

One of the mimes chooses Truth. The clown says, "Tell us 
why you came to the circus." 

"Gimme a color." The mime asks the clown. 

"Purple." 

"Think of a vice," he asks the acrobat. 
"Drinking?" she asks. 

The mime turns to Kate with a wide smile, "Gimme a city." 
"New York- 
Trie mime looks at Alex, "A state?" 



123 



"Vermont." 

The mime requests of me a woman's name and I give him 

Ava. 

"Have you ever been in Grand Central Station after mid- 
night?" The mime begins. "The city never sleeps, and the station 
never slumbers. The lights flicker off of Dunkin' Donuts counters 
and small, dark men swathed in heavy accents sell plastic thimble 
souvenirs out of cardboard boxes. My train arrived from New York 
City, Vermont, a rural town which boasted of a traffic light, a post 
office down the road, and a dancehall. My whole village could've 
slipped into the throbbing center of Grand Central, but I wouldn't 
return for the whole world. At sixteen, I was a man, and I was done 
with small towns and small town politics. My father managed the 
market, and was an alcoholic, and my mother was the dentist and 
drank to be with him. Kids liked to make fun of me for my father's 
drinking and my mother's money. I loved a girl named Ava from 
the first grade until the day I left, but she refused to talk to me, 
because her daddy was the preacher and we didn't go to church. So 
I vowed I'd find me a prettier girl and lose the liquor in my name 
and the money in my breath. I came to New York, the biggest city 
I could think of. The evening I arrived, the sky was flushed purple, 
the color of passion and twilight." 

"Bullshit." Alex says. "I don't believe a word of it." 

Kate walks her fingers up Alex's arm until she reaches His 
neck. She then claps her hand around his mouth. Looking bright- 
eyed at the mime, she says, "Go on. Tell us how you got to the 
circus." 

"Well. New York's a big place, and I went to Brooklyn, the 
Bronx, Chinatown, past every corner and under every stairwell o] 
the whole city, but no girl could shine a light half as bright as Ava's 
So I moved. I went to Tucson, Des Moines, Charleston and ever 
Pittsburgh. You know," and this is said parenthetically, "once you've 
been around the world seven times, it goes completely flat, just liktf 
it was before Columbus. Flat as a pancake. Anyway, in Pittsburgh 
I met up with the circus. I figured I could see a lot more girls if j 
went with them, and here I am." 

"Did you ever find her?" I ask nervously. 



124 



"Remember, I was looking for a pretty girl. I wasn't looking 
| for Ava." 

Alex's dad brings over a box of pizza. 

Everyone agrees that the mime, damned liar though he is, 
deserves the first piece, and the clown, who asked such a sexless 
question, deserves the last. 

Alex turns to me. "Truth or Dare?" 

"Dare." I walk a few paces away from the circle and every- 
one whispers together. Alex waves me back. "Okay. Here it is. 
Pick your nose with your tongue." I pull and I push and I try, but 
I cannot pick my nose with my tongue. 

"I can't pick my nose with my tongue," I say. Alex looks at 
the two mimes and at the clown. He steps forward and picks me 
up. The others run forward and take my legs, my arms. They carry 
me, laughing, away from the groves, the acrobat and Kate following 
us with shouts of glee. They carry me towards a fountain which is 
filled with clean, deep, blue water, shimmering like a magic brew, 
somehow baptismal, somehow medicinal. 

"One, two, three!" Alex cries. They swing me forward, 
then back, and then forward. They let me go and my momentum 
carries me high, sprawling, and I sink down into the cold water 
with a splash. Kate cries out and runs toward me, tearing though 
the water as if it were sheets of ice. When she is close, I swim 
forward and grab her ankle. Alex leads the mimes, the clown, and 
the acrobat in after us. We are all wet and throwing waves at each 
other; we pull each other in and push each other out of the water. 

We walk back, tingling from the cold water, and Alex asks 
me for a truth, since I failed the dare. The juggler whoops, "Tell us 
about a graphic sexual experience!" 

"Ah," I say in a low voice. "I was sitting on my back porch, 
looking at fireflies in my back yard, when my neighbor, who wants 
to be a spy for the FBI when he grows up, ran by naked." Everyone 
laughs and demands: "AND?" I yell, "Nothing!" 

"You have a back porch?" The acrobat exclaims. 

"Jill has a back porch," Alex says, jealously. 

"It's just a porch!" I cry, laughing. 



125 



"Yeah, but I bet you buy soap by the six-pack," the mime 

says. 

"Yeah, we do buy soap by the six-pack. It's cheaper." 

"We've got an apartment in Tucson," explains the mime 
"but we fill it with soap we've collected from hotels. We've neve: 
bought soap, let alone a sixpack." 

"Soap's soap. Who cares about soap?" Kate demands. 

"It's not about soap," the acrobat says sadly. 

Kate mostly works with the circus folk, but the FunWork 
management has sent me to work at the Candy Apple and Goodie 
Booth. I make soft-serve ice-cream cones- it's all in the wrist: fil 
the cone densely and then turn: one, two, three, loops which ge 
smaller as you twist. I also sell red licorice, candy apples, appl 
dumplings, and cinnamon bow-ties glazed to shine. If I don't sell, 
bake, paint icing on the donuts, cast sprinkles on the brownies, c 
wire up the tanks to the soda-pop machines. On my breaks, I liste 
to the men building the fastest roller coaster in the world, right hei 
in Kentucky, clink, clink, clink. I read and laugh at the funny bump* 
stickers on people's cars: "I love my freedom and fear my goverr 
ment: stop gun control", "make love not war". After breaks, I wip 
down counters, sweep floors, and catch Dave's eye whenever he lool 
at me through the windows of his stand, which is directly aero 
from mine. I cross my eyes and stick out my tongue, and he laugl 
and pretends to offer me a soft pretzel through the window. The 
are people here galore, and stories too. There's Psycho Anna no^ 
tossing cardboard boxes into a dumpster behind a brown pick 
fence. She earned her nickname by declaring, at five minute inte 
vals, her undying love to Dan, her manager, whenever he yelled 
her. She's so tragic, with her almost limp and stooped shouldej 
she who should be so sure of foot and sleek of limb. 

Sometimes Dave and I take our breaks together and wat«{ 
Kate as she runs around the circus tents checking wiring with an ;j 
of urgent importance. She nods and then rushes away. Dave anc 
walk around the picnic groves. 

As I dip apples into candy, I am conscious of him in t 
stand beside mine. We live on the periphery of each other's ima; 



126 



nations, the essence of flirtation. 

It's an unlikely day for a revelation: dark with rain, infused 
with Friday's chores and summer's laziness. I am opening my stand 
when I see a man in a black mustache, baseball cap and sunglasses 
approach. 

"We're not open yet!" I call through the window. He re- 
treats to a table where he sits watching me as I clean. I wonder if 
my father has any friends in Kentucky. 

During break, Dave walks with his head down. "I wish I 
S could be young and obnoxious," he tells me. "I wish I wasn't al- 
1 ready married!" 

"You aren't!" I exclaim with a laugh. 

"I mean, I love Kate. I want to spend the rest of my life 
... with her." He looks away, 
i "But you want a fling." 

: "I prefer to call it an experience." 

"Lots of girls like you, David. I mean, you say the neatest 
pi things. You have stars hanging from your ceiling." 
ffl 

David's name is a ribbon which threads itself through my 
thoughts and rises suddenly to the surface. I remember him hug- 
. *ing me once, before I went inside so he could kiss Kate goodnight. 
.^It was a hug at the door, a hug with arms only: nothing else touched. 
•alt was a gesture which meant everything and nothing, and I won- 
oidered momentarily how one action could be two different things at 
i once. 

Dfl 

At night as Kate is unwiring the circus, I begin again the 
:ti daily ritual of watching cars leave the park and wondering which 

one is his. I imagine him at the wheel of a brown station wagon, an 
;tP range Oldsmobile, a Chinese-red subcompact convertible, an old, 
: cruised Buick or even some pea-green foreign car with an exotic 
iciname. The lot is dark, with a few lights which cast bars across his 

:hest and roll quickly up his neck, nose and eyes and finally drift 
c^ack over his hair and fly out the back window as he drives forward. 



127 



We are two fish caught in the same current; we gyrate againsi 
the river's passion or with her drift in an undefined circle of the 
same radius and the same center. We move with the same rhythrr 
and at the same speed, but we are two fish. When he is at one poin 
in the circle and I swim directly below him, we are no longer twe 
fish. We are one fish and his reflection. 

It was raining so hard it could wake you up. I open my eye 
and see Kate slip out of bed. Her shadow flickers in the moonligh 
as she pushes up her window and unlatches the screen. It falls t« 
the bushes beneath. 

"What are you doing?" I ask. 

She does not turn around, but gazes out to the night, lean 
ing out her window as if yearning for something. "Alex left toda; 
He moved to Tucson to live with his mother. He just left, like go in 
away was nothing." She leans out farther and then comes back ir 
"We have to leave an opening," Kate says returning to bed, "to 1( 
the ghosts out." 

James Dean's figure, prominent by day in his 12x14 fram 1 
fades into the nebulous cloud seeming to come from his cigarett 
but it was only moonlight, dusty, chalky moonlight, streaming i 
the open window. 

Kate is crying the next morning. She locks herself in h 
darkroom for three hours. When she comes out, she explains wi 
a smile, 

"I want my pictures to take people on a joyride. When 
person has to cope with something, when she's sad, fuscia does : 
change a hair on a rat's ass. I want people to think they're sitti: ; 
where Marilyn Monroe sat or climbing RFK's favorite tree. I wa : 
people to look at my photos and get away." She invites me into b: 
darkroom where she shows me a picture of herself on a porch swi 5 
with Alex. In the photo, Kate's face rests against his shoulder, e^js : 
closed, while he presses his lips against her forehead. She laugi, i\ 
"How happy this picture makes me! I am going to hang it next© * 
my photo of James Dean. Photography's the best medicine." 

Gifted are those who dream, and blessed are those who [~ 



ten to the tales a dreamer tells. 

"Does it ever bother you that your make-believe isn't real?" 

"No," she says with a triumphant smile and her old laugh, 
"I'm an artist. I lie for a living." 

Later on, during breakfast, Kate tells me, "Dave broke up 
with me last night." She begins to cry again and the color drains 
out of the kitchen. 

I stand up and kiss her lightly on the cheek. 

At work, I see the strange man again. I am not afraid; I 
hope he shoots me for his country. He circles around my stand like 
a shark, and when I am at register, he buys red licorice, one strand 
at a time. I tend to believe that he wants to shoot me; I watch the 
same psycho mystery shows as everyone else. 

At night, I am waiting for Kate to finish unwire the circus. 
f The strange man with the mustache and dark sunglasses walks near 
ry bench. I look away as he takes off his baseball cap and pulls at 
^is mustache. I hear him fold his sunglasses, click, click. 
It is Noah Potter. 

"According to my calendar, Jilly, cheerleading camp was over 
/esterday! You'd better call your Dad and tell him you're coming 
jiome with me; this is not a good scene." 

In 

Kate drives us to the train station. She smiles and shakes 
ny hand firmly. Dave never says good-bye; I wonder if he and the 
;D icrobat, with whom I've seen him many times walking, are having a 
3i uccessful fling. 

On the train ride home, Noah chatters beside me. "I'm a 
v-jleuth," he explains. "I find the truth for a living." 

ok 

The going is always better than the coming back. While 
. departures are flushed with anticipation, the fusion between possi- 
bility and imagination, arrivals are balanced between probability 
:(I nd reality. It is possible that I will return home to both parents, 
»ut improbable, and while I can imagine returning home with my 
} ;nother, the only other person I know on the train is Noah Potter. 



129 



For a few years, I will be content with my back porch and soap 
bought by the six-pack. For a few years, I will be content with my 
told healing. One day, though, the medicine will run out on me, 
my blood will steam and my pulse twitch uneasy. One day I will 
catch a train, a bus, a plane and head west. I will hear it calling, low, 
persistent, and I will go, fleeing town as if running from the law. I 
will not think of those I leave behind. 



Kate Zangrilli 



130 



Kate Nesin 
131 - 



"Sitting on the angle 
adjacent to him. . 



Sitting on the angle adjacent to him 
Face twittering, nerves bisected 
"What is love anyway" 

Signaling with my thumb I move the ring around the 
full circumference of my forefinger 
Back to the origin 
"Who knows. Not me." 



Erica Fruitman 



132 



Moth 



Tissuing the air beneath its petaled wings 
(among the dimming red of Ilford darkrooms 
the stale vacuum cleaners and 

dismembered 
baby dolls, toilet seats, soccer balls, trash bones) 
tranquil page to flip us onto the meat grill 
it gives us the scrolled message of 

still 

still 

while the actors are revving their batteries 
the reptilian skeletons they will display soon 
the aged secrets they will 
husk 

right on this putrid worn disco floor 
the disco of dysfunction 

its few minutes of fame 
gardening and tilling this timed space of 
red 

green red 
green 

with its aimless search for light 
a reminder of slow life, that light 

starves some corners 
solidified with absence, with screens of dark 
this corner bears its fertility. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



133 




Caroline Whitbeck 



134 



The Photo Shoot 



I want to say, 'you have the structure of birds, 

you endure as they do' 
but you are a squeaky pup with the energy of hounds 
you do not recover your steps like cats, you do not say, 

I am already dead,' as I do. 
I caught you with your face wanting something from me 
your fingers straddled steel strings of that electric guitar 
(you wrote songs about me, they had the eloquence of 

pop radio 

but they made me smile; 'how naive,' I thought) 
and you lifted that waxy brown chin of yours 
allowed your neck to be naked 

I took your photograph, I wanted to broadcast the German 

Jesus in you 
and you stole my cold palm for a while, 
you are the one that needs touch. 
I'd seen that morphing of your face before 
a double set of everything — and it all became so thick 
I knew you were ugly and I am a frog, 
we have no glamour, that is why I leave. 
Even our words, 

they wear rubber gardening boots and slip on grass 
they are klutzy and masochistic, they have bumpy skin 
we fail even here and we call ourselves artists. 
How could I let you squat on that dirty plot of carpet 
snaked with the umbilical cords of your avocations, your 
addictions 

and earthquake with snot and salt, pleading for reason 

you make rejection a 1940s drama flick 
(and we would have raving reviews) 
you make it seem like I have no pulse and no purpose 
a boy-drinking undead vagrant with a backpack full of large 
words. 

I know I shouldn't have returned to this Airstream flat of 



135 



yours 

my feet are wet, I have run out of film. 
I am sweating with boredom and I think you just saw 
my pretty colours. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



136 



Light Film 



It's a record; 

sun slashing through 

the window and the blinds, 

particles, not dust but pieces, 

a diagonal shadow. 

Scissors cut hair into sharper ends 

like this sun cuts the window 

and the beveled wooden shelves. 

The light hits. 

I am rosy, glowing, 

and I know you are, though 

you pretend otherwise, 

the youngest doll, waxy, scrubbed and scuffed, 

and I know, too, 

I want — secretly — the height of 

you and her combined. 

How tall we would be then. 

The universe can spin, doubling 
about the room, 

the stars and planets like bubbles, 
that kind of irregular blue, 
against the walls, fine powders, 
Bisquick or Antonia's Bath and Shower. 
The projection is in rainbow colors, 
many blues, and I am tall if not 

the color of bath water, 

bubbles, 

comets, constellations. 

The window uses light 
little fingers. Projections 



137 



are best seen in a darker room 

against darker walls. 

But if it were otherwise then 

I could not see from here 

the bathroom shelf 

and you, tall in this space. 

Towering and slightly blue. 



Kate Nesin 



138 



Fallout, Shelter, Suture 



1. "chernobyl?" 
"no, chamomile." 

2. he says: "honey, I'm breaking boundaries." 
he says: "honey, I'm at the window." 

(beat) 

"are you there?" he said 
"where?" I said 

"the bottom of the fishbowl?" he said 
"there's nothing." 

touching me now 

fingertips 

fishy-mouthed 

(beat) 

"bend for me." 
"I do not bend." 
I do not bend 

restless, indifferent 
stiff as trees 

toes, 

interlocking branches 
but 



139 



splinterless 



I do not split 

I do not bend 

branches bend 
but 

glass 

breaks. 

you 

wash, wrists 
at the sink 
slip in the water 
clean the wound 

glass is 

clear as water and 
cool to 



the touch 
as white linen 
gloves, gauze. 

(beat) 

"I do not bend; I break." 
"splinters? splashes." 

I'm at the window- 
-pane, 

140 



glass gone 
nothing 

but wood 
remains. 

4. "kisses? what of care and kindness? 
he is cut, wet red 
I cannot stand this mess 

thread is 
stronger 

than both of us. 

(beat) 

I sew, 

his hand in mine, a vow. 

the stitch, 

the wound is 

warm to the touch — 

touching him. 

(beat) 

a domestic 
clutter in the kitchen 
a dish, rag 
a curtain 

I steep, I sip 
old tea, old 



141 



roots, 



growing towards 
the light: 

the kitchen fluorescent, 
the sun, the son, 
and so on: 

(beat) 

a flare! a flash! 

each a greater blast 
than the last. 

Caroline Whitbeck 



142 




Shivani Reddy 



143 



craig thorn 
_ nathan littlefield 



O 




o 



charlie finch 
mozhan navabi 
Caroline whitbeck 
caitlin berrigan 
christina richardson 
erica fruiterman 
kate nesin 
katherine gilbert 
nick wilson 
kate zangrilli 
derek neathery 
shivani reddy 
amy o'neal 
alice lewis 
miriam berger 
caitlin mulhern 
anne borneuf 
mary ziegler 
will glass 
kim ballard 
andrea campbell 
julia magnus 
chris meserole 
orion montoya 
sara bright , 
nathan hetherington 



Poetry and Fiction 

Maureen Chun 




A Courant Chapbook 
dited by Eva Lane and Katharine Gilbert 



Poetry and Fiction 

Maureen Chun 



A Courant Chapbook 
Edited by Eva Lane and Katharine Gilbert 



The Chapbook was designed to showcase i 
author who has distinguished him or herself in the 
Courant. It is a collection of the author's publishec 
and previously unpublished work. 

We hope you will enjoy this selection of 
Maureen Chun's writing. 



Cover Art, "Study of 'The Longing for Happiness 
Fulfilled in Poetry, 'from the Beethoven Frieze by 
Gustav Klimt" by Grace Rollins 



Table of Contents 



Introduction iii 



Verses 1 

The Black Tree 3 

Landscape 4 

The Sun 5 

The Shadows 6 

The Shifting Season 7 

The Tourist 8 

The Impressionists 9 

Solitude of the Body. 10 

The Night Life 11 

Statues of Art 12 

Song 14 

The Moods 15 

Remembering Evaporated Myriads 16 

Desert Winters 17 

California 18 

Tenderness 30 



Introduction: A Stern House of Scents 
Kate Zangrilli 

In a way, Maureen Chun's poems are < 
series of marriages. In them we observe the 
marriage between the landscape and the indi 
vidual, the fusion of image and aura, dream j 
and tangibility, insight and language. How- 
ever, it is the fruit of these marriages that 
distinguishes her as a poet. Beneath her el- 
egant stanzas and carefully crafted unity, lies, 
as she wrote in the "Shifting Season/' the 
"common element," her "copper in the light.' 

Thematically, her speakers, individual! 
inhabiting imperfect space, confront their 
environments to extract meaning. In "Verses J 
the speaker examines her past in the light of I 
"what is important." She recalls "the shadow 
of green leaves" and "unremembers the soun 
and little children" leading up to her final lin< 
the answer to her search for importance: "the 
missing symbol." Around this final insight, tl 
entire poem leaps up and takes shape. In 
"Landscape," the moon "burns in white sim- 
plicity" purifying even the night air into "obli; 
eration." The second stanza affirms the hum*! 
connection to this landscape, showing how wj 
too, purify, "through prayer." In "Desert Win- 
ters," the speaker observes the two conflicting 
shapes of a desert winter: one dusky and dull' 



he other mystical and radiant. In the third 
tanza: "what is more terrible/ than intuition 
;one awry/' we find our missing symbol. 

Stylistically, Maureen's poems are not 
aden with thick folds of vocabulary and de- 
cription. She uses simple, strong adjectives to 
veave uncluttered phrases. "Leaves can stand 
or themselves," she told me. This discrimi- 
nate selectivity recalls her poem "The Impres- 
sionists." Like the painters, Maureen's words 
l low in a "current of pure... strokes." When 
he uses a metaphor or simile, it connects to 
he subject matter; all of her words and devices 
contribute to the poem's development, 
vlaureen says that to write so simply, she had 
i lo shake off many of the things she's been told 
i)ver the years, how she had to reject her origi- 
nal perceptions of "good writing." Once she 
tiecognized that a three-line Haiku could be as 
'legant as a book-length western Odyssey, her 
: )ossibilities expanded. While a Chinese or 
lapanese poet might prefer one concise image 
uch as "mountain." a western poet would 
>erhaps favor "a snow-capped mountain 
)eneath the clouds." Maureen frequency 
eviews a poem several times trying to pare it 
lown, trying to simplify it into a sleeker, more 
elusive form. Because the images aren't deco- 
ated or dressed up, but rather outlined, they 
:an have more meaningful personal associa- 



i 




tions for the reader. Using the previous ex- 
ample of the mountain, one simple word 
conjures up in my mind a mountain near my I 
home, while another, more specific image, 
might not allow me the same freedom of inte I 
pretation. She tries to write a poem less of 
language than of sensibility, where aura and 
substance are balanced. In Maureen's poems, I 
ice unlocks knuckles, desire is a river, hair is 
crushed to juice, and air, such a noun of feel- 
ing, becomes a noun of sound and sight, col- 
ored blue and yellow. Verbs are strong as 
concrete, and fresh as "blind new life" becau 
she takes them out of their usual applications ! 
Pores inhale black earth, making men's mindi 
"itch" and "twist." And never expect her 
poems to wind to a close; never expect the 
themes of her poems, as she writes in "The 
Sun," to "dissolve, dissolve." Every ending 
makes her poems explode into a second level 
of interpretation. What began as a shadow 
ends as an intricate house of cards. In her 
deliberate, specific way, Maureen gives tongi[j 
to all the things we knew, but never knew ho i 
to say. 

Now is the time to let her poems speali 
for themselves. Lift the latch, turn the page, 
and enter this stern house of scents. 




POETRY 

Photograph by Anne Bourneuf 







I It 


Verses 


i nave uvea an my lire 
as I should have 

lived my life. 






I have worked until 

I have forgotten my hands 

and my long silky hair. 






When it was time 

I have rested to think 

of the meaning of my dreams. 


I have tried to take in 

the shadows of green leaves 
dancing in gold light. 






This when I am working 

and have unremembered 







the sounds and the little 
children. 



The veins in my hands 

are green and bolder. The roses 
are bright and satin-rich. 



'These are for you. 

These are for you." The water 
in the vase is fragrant 



Hie mornings are clean and rich 

with sunrise. My moods as implacable 
as the trees and the splinters, 

\ stern house of scents, 
My life, my life. 

Everyday I write 

Df what is important. 

I am still crying over 

what has not, the missing sym- 
bol. 



1 



The Black Tree 



To no avail: 

The earth breaks and swallows the leaves. 
The grey birds are streaks against morning. 

The morning was washed: 
An unstained glass-blue. 
The translucence 

A sheet or mirror of light. 
Then there was a thickening, 
A blackening. 

The pressure on the papery sky; 
The flickering of an absence, a void, 
Crackling, cracking my view. 

Night and day flooded my branches, 
My cold arms, hard and dark. 
My bark dried and curled. 



Landscape 



The moon burns in white simplicity, 
rhe night air is obliteration. 

We think of the order of things, 
and compensate through prayer. 



The Sun 



These days have been poisoned in the sun. 
The thickness in my throat, the weight of m 
stomach... 

Our bright bodies exhaling water, like oil. 

I was born here. Born and raised, 
A family with dark hair and glassy eyes. 
The milk of our bodies, the fibers of our flesl 
Slow to a photograph. And we look up. 

These years have blown away 

Like wood-shavings. The earth curls like 

paper. 

Fire springs like flowers, and I 

Am content. I touch your hands warm with 

blood. 

Soon the birds will claw at our hair and scrat I 
Purple wounds on our lips. Soon the black 
clouds 

Will dissipate and the air will dry. And you 
and I 

Will smile true, and clear, and relieved, in the! 
sun.And the themes of our lives dissolve, 
dissolve. 



The Shadows 



The wind blows headlong through watery blue 
njand black shadows. 
Thinking of ways to deceive you 
Amid flowers I cannot see or smell. 



The Shifting Season 



I 



L 

The blue I seek 

is the blue gleam of snow. 

It is too faint, really, to be compared 

to a halo. It is soft, 

and illusory, like an error 

of vision. 

Yes, I appreciate snow; 

its suppressed crunch beneath my boots, 

the ice glittering beneath powder. 

Today it's all melting: 

There's a puddle at my doorstep. 

Ice floes, like small fruit, float 

in the stony wind. . 

II. 

When it's warm in winter, I expect the sun. 

When there's no sun, I think of home. 

Yellow moth-lilies in my room 

twittering on their long, green stalk 

as I blow on them. 

My dog hiccuping on my lap, 

a stillness quelling my hunger. 

What I want is the common element, 
the copper in the light. 



The Tourist 



Fear like a sickness 

Leaps up and licks my throat. 

It is a yellow stone 
In a blood red sky. 

I cannot believe in them until I crush 
Their rippling hair to juice. 



The Impressionists 



Through the window, across the street — 
Briefly — when snow is falling heavily, 
Heavily, the surface of the houses, 
The trees, your sand-colored scarf, 
Moves in a current of pure white strokes. 

I hear it now. 

Since others sleep at night, I will lay down 
When the air is blue, before the light turns 
yellow. 



Solitude of the Body 



i like the sound of night air, 

Hie origin of ocean waters, the hollow shells. 



is 



The Night Life 



Like Jesus, I wanted to walk across the water 
to the river's edge. 

Like a miracle or a brilliance I wanted to folk |^ 
the strand of gold light 
Across the dark opaque course of the river. 
That is desire. 

I walked the path through the fields, to the 
river's edge, 

And wet my feet on the river's rocky bed. TTl 
sound of the flowing water 
Is rhythmic. Then there was no desire. Uptc, 
my thighs in water 

I walked into the stream and rested there. Th 

water was cold and felt 

Too pure to be a substance. 

Water mixing with my marrow, the ice unloclj 

ing my knuckles 

And releasing my bones, like stones in the 
hand. 

I was not thinking when I could no longer 
distinguish 

Between the small waves and the silver fish. | 
calmed me; 

It was like finding relief in the sightless eyes c 
the dead. 



Statues of Art 



r 'Love was the climate of our convention. 

How I loved you, and still do. 
°Ybur face resembles something 

Unassuming, with significance. 

[t is not even winter yet, 
\nd I am scrambling, frantic & heart-sick, 
To organize my visions & remember all these 
^ew objects and sights. 

Winter kills my heart; spring makes me stron- 

o 

?er, 

rhough summers I am left wondering 
\t the dark green limp leaves. 

5ome years change has little, or no,effect on me 

3ecause I am preoccupied 

With one thing, one image. 

3ut just as I forget some words, and words 

*epeated, 

f get sick of this one thing, sapped and flat- 
ened out. 

Why should I love the world 

When there is this image, 

Without meaning or privacy, without anything 

3ut calm. The world is frozen and calm. 

HIere is the stone. We touch. 



Song 



In my dream the tongues 

of rich, velvet flowers 

dripped with dark sugars, 

drank in the pour 

of gold light. 

I moved in the air 

of overripe fruit 

barely able to think, or smile; 

trying to speak, to say, 

This is the air 

buzzing with various truths, 
thick with happiness. 



The Moods 



[n the dark, the forests are primitive. 
There are the trees, stirring in the silence. 
The moon is clouded over. 

Then a light, like a mind or an animal, 

Above the hill. It is the men, 

Walking on, and coming in. 

Their pores inhale the black earth. 

The pungent scent makes the mind itch and 

twist. 

The slow churn of rot, and the stir 
Of blind new life. 

|Rust falls from your body like hair. 

!You, removed from what you thought 

You were, your tongue heavy in your mouth. 

... O, this unformed soul, like the sap 

Trickling from the plant, 

Crushed beneath a glisten of wet stone. 

There are no more instructions. The light has 
gone out. 

After this loss, music. 

You were so entranced, you had forgotten 

All about the events to come. 



Remembering Evaporated Myriads 



There is a period 
in sleep 
when 

eyelids twitch 
and the eyes 
themselves 

flutter as wildly 

as one 

blue, 

nervous ghost. 
Eyes move 
when 

a flux 
of voices 
inundates 

the mind. 



Desert Winters 



They were impotent and dull. 
There was nothing about. 
Things were flat, inert. 
The only living voice 
Was the sharp, enervating wind, 
Stripping hair, clothing, grass, 
Their veneer flaking, 
Absorbing a dusty, dusky color. 

In another time 

The desert winter was mystical. 

The moon, hanging in the acrid night, 

iFixed and radiant in its closed face. 

What is more terrible 
Than intuition gone awry. 




STORIES 

drawing by Laurie Kindred 



California 



The tree alone resisted our eternal flux.* 

Outside, the sky was a weird, inspiring 
:>lue. It was twilight. The branches of the tree in 
: ront of the window were black against the back- 
ground, distinct and dark like a network of dead 
/eins swathed by the blue, still sky The night 
vas quiet, and the stillness was like the silence 
)f a void or a netherworld, inhabited only by 
nsubstantial things. 

Below the window, the street was vacant. 
Dn its borders were Spanish-style houses resem- 
)ling modernized villas, covered with stucco, 
iome were painted ocher, others a pale tanger- 
ne. They were wide and staunch, with white 
$ates that dazzled in the sun, and front gardens 
Roasting clusters of small, bright flowers. The 
I solated trees grew on square lawns divided be- 
ween neighbors with brick boundaries. Their 
I eaves and the blades of grass, clipped neatly and 
pvenly, were a dark green, smooth and waxy. The 
! foliage, at once sparse and luxurious, had wilted 
iomewhat since the desiccating air of fall had 
irrived. 

When the sky was a fiery blue, the sun a 
lat white plate of light, the clean, even colors of 
he houses, the lawns, the gates, and the dull red 



r 



roof tiles would burn and blaze in their separa I- 
ness. The heat would intensify the colors urB 
the black street sizzled and the entire setting weq 
like a painting of preternaturally pure pigmen!. 
Then, when the light would stagnate into suW 
set, saffron and pink, the windows would shiij- 
mer like sheets of oily, liquid gold. But it wi 
twilight now, and the sky was emptied aill 
washed clean. The original hues were mutJ 
and dimmed, their clarity dissolving in the laW 
ers of darkness. 

There was little movement in the rooi[: 
only the shivering of a girl wrapped in a tow<| 
who stood before the open window, allowing tl 
musty air to flood the room and the water dri | 
ping from her black hair, collecting in delicalJ 
quivering beads on her arms, to evaporate on i j 
own. 

"Yes/' sighed Mrs. Terrans, "I am grat i 
ful. I am grateful for all you have done. I ha*] 
nothing but gratitude for your considerate eil 
deavors to please me. Do not accuse me of b ii 
ing ungrateful in the least. But despite your vi\ 
tuous efforts and my boundless gratitude, I call 
not say I am happy. Because I despise this placj 
I have been suffering too long, I decided th 
morning. I cannot stand this place. This pe 
petual warmth is killing me. It's killing my mincl 
I swear it." 

She spoke languidly and caustically t 



turns, and had risen slightly from the sofa while 
speaking. Her sallow face had hardened with a 
fierce resentment. Her dark eyes were directed 
^t her husband with a loathing that fascinated 
Margaret, who sat quietly on the carpet pretend- 
ing to read from a text opened before her. She 
:ould not focus on the reading in her step- 
mother's presence, and did not attempt to. She 
: elt almost drained and numbed near this vola- 
;ile woman, threatening with her very strange, 
j/ery foreign notions and attitudes. Margaret sim- 
ply absorbed the woman's countenance and her 
pcrid words, glancing up occasionally, then re- 
turning to the page swarming with indecipher- 
able black letters. 

Mrs. Terrans licked her cracked lips, 
which had begun to bleed during her speech, and 
eclined on the sofa once more, the anger soften- 
.ng but the bitterness remaining and setting in. 
?he touched her dry, thin cheek and began to cry. 
vlr. Terrans sat erect in his arm-chair, opposite 
pis wife, and looked soberly out the window. His 
pure white hair was slightly disheveled. (He had 
gotten the mail, and the wind was still terrible.) 
:Tis hands, too, were leathery and painful to be- 
jiold. The folds of old age on his face, so harsh 
md clearly defined, did not move. 

There was a precision and gravity in his 
nanner, which many mistook for profundity, that 
vas most apparent when he spoke. He spoke 



with a reservation of speech and movement til 
impressed others, especially his daughter. H 
was never ambiguous, nor sarcastic. A sev«B 
self-possession inclined towards stoicism cc^ 
trolled his tall, lean, sturdy body. His featuis 
were perfectly symmetrical. 

"How can warmth destroy the mind?" a 
inquired. He sipped his coffee. 

Mrs. Terrans stared at the ceiling for a fe| 
moments before responding. She was still weef 
ing when she turned to Margaret. "Maggie, lo I 
at me. Let me see your face." 

Margaret obliged. Mrs. Terrans briglH 
ened a bit, then turned her face to her husbari 
"Maggie is bright. She is quick and intelligeij 
But she grows more sluggish everyday. If v| 
stay in California any longer her mind will sii] 
ply atrophy, I know it. I'm telling you warj 
weather produces weak-minded individual 
Now, I can take heat for only a few weeks, evil 
months at a time. I want snow, I want the shar I 
ness of winter. I want a New England landscap j 
and the woods surrounding our old home. Hei f 
you have to import trees if you want some shad f 
I'm tired of this empty land and this oppressr !; 
weather." 

As she reflected for a moment her ey 
were desperate and pathetic. "I must point o'f 
Maggie's greatest flaw — her romantic natui ( 
I'm sorry, Maggie," she said painfully, "but I mui 



dmit it, and so do you. You see, Carl, Maggie is 
ery much like me. We may not be related by 
»lood, but we are very similar. We both have 
ensitive, weak nerves. And this place — a desert, 
eally — will drive us mad." 

Mr. Terrans returned his mug to the table. 
Isabelle. We've been here a total of six months, 
nd you want us to move back. We came here 
3r your health. Let's forget this idea of moving 
gain." As he spoke, he seemed to Margaret not 
ier own father, but a man without identity, 
peaking words without distinction. He seemed 
jmtouchable and infinitely dull, a relic from an 
^significant past. 

"No!" shrieked Mrs. Terrans. "Goddamn 
;:, I said I was grateful! I said that! I did\" She 
limped up and glared at her husband. "Look at 
he," she said with trembling insistence. Mr. 
errans averted his eyes and sipped his coffee, 
iiis wife pulled at her tangled, dirty hair, grind- 
rig her teeth. Then, swiftly and viciously, she 
pproached her husband and slapped him. The 
pffee spilled from his mug onto the carpet and 
teamed briefly. 

The slap obliterated the vagueness, the 
[eaviness of the atmosphere. It sliced and shat- 
Bred the mood, so that Margaret, startled and 
/ounded by the break in reality, looked up to 
ee the wreckage. Fear animated her nerves, 
parked a more susceptible, alert consciousness. 



Yet she looked up with a vapid expression. 

Mrs. Terrans looked at Margaret ail 
pointed at her. "See!" she cried excitedly. "Lol 
at that face!" 

It's really extraordinary that they are m< 
ried, that they even met, Margaret thought. 
Isabelle rarely left her old home, and Mr. Terra 
was always either at work or at home. Occasic 
ally he spent the evenings with colleagues. B 
even if they had met by some strange twist 
fate, why did they marry? she wondered. Isabe 
was a malingering wretch, melodramatic, se 
pitying, moaning and groaning incessantly, pro 
ably driving whomever she lived with mad. ( 
was she alone? 

She couldn't understand why her fath* 
was not firm and direct with Isabelle as he w 
with everyone else. Why did he marry her? Ai 
she — why did she marry him. It made no sens 
and confused Margaret. 

Like a damp darkness surrounding wh 
is illuminated, there was the indefinite, unre 
ognized sentiment recognizing Isabelle's virtui 
Margaret had not processed it yet. It was st 
floating in her mind, too bewildering to seti 
down and become concrete. There was the n 
tion that Isabelle was not truly a brainless, m! 
lingering fool, that her behavior was a phase, < 
an act. She was leaving behind that degradatic! 
and self-deception, those products of a deep 



isturbance. Her complaints and snivels re- 
lained, superficially, the familiar complaints and 
/hines. Yet they had also become cries against 
tie very existence of such wretchedness and the 
ays that had been consumed with it; not sim- 
ly what made her wretched. There was a touch 
f poignancy in her new misery, unpolluted by 
er former pettiness and worldliness. Years later 
largaret would perceive nobility in this suffer- 
ig for suffering. 

Margaret was ignorant of Isabelle's new 
ro test against the world: she recognized only 
le symptoms of it. Each of Isabelle's words, once 
redictable and flat, had taken on a livelier, more 
iting quality. Since the day she had decided that 
he abhorred California, she spent her time rag- 
jig, not moping. Her tone, once soft with sighs 
nd lamentations, now stilled and pierced the air. 
j: was as if through distillation her dissatisfac- 
on, her tears, her self-pity — integral parts of 
j.er personality for years — were purifying into 
othing other than anger, hard and distinct. The 
letamorphosis was awesome to witness. 

Margaret awoke to the low drone of mum- 
ling. 

Groggy and disoriented, she rubbed her 
es clumsily and yawned. It was morning. Bars 
f mellow, warm light shone through the blinds. 
i)ust particles floated serenely in the light. 

Mrs. Terrans was standing in a dark cor- 



ner of the room untouched by the early rays. ! i 
was in her white bathrobe, which droop < 
heavily on her body, reading intently, occasi I 
ally muttering to herself. "Oh yes, I rememlf] 
Anna appears at the ball in her velvet gown. I 
Each time she turned the page there was It 
rapid, startling sound of paper sliding acrt 
paper, uncurling with a small snap beneath I 
finger. 

The sound, after a while, severed Mar i 
ret from her cloudy dream completely. She 9 
up in bed and saw her step-mother closing I 
book slowly, her eyes lingering fondly on \ 
front cover. Margaret opened her mouth to sj 
something — what, she didn't know — but bef i I 
she could Mrs. Terrans turned and said, "Get 
morning." She was in a good mood at the m 
ment, reminiscing, smiling nostalgically. She 1 
her finger along the creased spines of Margaret 
books. As she did, her face darkened. "Mem 
ries" she said quietly, "leave a bad taste in 11 
mouth." Her lips moved imperceptibly. She I 
trieved herself from that other sphere of aj- 
sciousness to offer Margaret one more smileja 
contrived smile, but a smile nevertheless) bef<:'£ 
leaving the room. 

Margaret had lain down once more, lp 
blanket covering all beneath the chin, wrappifi 
about her body like a cocoon. She was thinki| 
about what she might buy at the bookstore ■ 



lay. Lately, she had taken to purchasing classics 
ind fat books on history and simply arranging 
hem — sleek, shiny, untouched — on her book- 
ihelf without any real intention of reading them 
:over to cover. There was only a weak desire, 
>ut it was artificial, overpowered by her lazy 
lesire to lay quietly in bed as her thoughts, thick, 
imple, unwieldy, slowed into a hushed peace. 
Jut the peace was always broken by the sun 
reeping into her room, glowing on her eyelids 
o that a rude red pervaded her vision. 

The sun was shining on her face now, so 
he rose, washed, changed, and went downstairs 
or breakfast, where Isabelle had prepared can- 
aloupe for her. It was cool and fresh, and Mar- 
garet carefully picked the opalescent, sticky seeds 
from her slice before eating. Carl Terrans sat be- 
ide her reading the morning paper, cereal 
runching noisily in his mouth. 

"They've set fire to homes" Carl an- 
nounced. He was referring to the terrible riots 
jhat had been raging for nearly a week now. 
Margaret was surprised to hear this; not because 
jt seemed unlikely, but because she had simply 
prgotten about it. She had blocked out the vio- 
ence, the mass beatings, the sweaty faces on TV 
yith wild eyes. 

"... And it's spread to the surrounding 
|vildland. They're so busy trying to put out the 
turning fires and homes that they've forgotten 



the trees." He looked up, to make sure that IV 
garet was listening. 

"The forests are so dry, aren't they?" 
ried Isabelle, who was slicing more cantalo 
"And they're so close, aren't they?" 

"Yes" said Carl. "Pretty close. It mi 
even reach here. But it's nothing to worry aboi 
he said without much persuasion. "It's j 
likely." Outside, the sky was without cloud; 
faint blue tinged with the brown of smog a 
smoke. The trees waved in the breeze, and bh 
crows were roosting on the roofs. 

"You know," Isabelle persisted afte 
moment, "I wouldn't really mind if the f 
reached here. Our place." 

"Stop it" said Carl, repressing his frust 

tion. 

"It would burn our home, and 
wouldn't have anything but the clothes on c 
backs. But that'd be okay, because we would 
need anything." 

"Shut up," he commanded. His eyes Wf 
burning as he stared at the paper. 

"We could start all over. From scratc 
Isabelle put her knife down and ate one of I 
cantaloupe cubes, looking down at the count 

When it became humid a few days lal 
Isabelle began to think of the year she had spe| 
in Africa, photographing the people, their rt! 
down neighborhoods, and sometimes the wi 



fe. It was hot there too, like it was in Califor- 
ia, but it was still different. In Africa, she was 
ot and content, and the landscape would shim- 
\er with colors. 

The riots had ended, and all the fires had 
een extinguished. The fires had never reached 
largaret's street with its dry, bright homes, but 
\e day after the riots had ended the people 
:epped out into the morning to find a fine layer 
I ash on their driveways, lawns, and trees. It 
|?sted on the green leaves and the waxy grass, 
id covered the dew on the flowers. But the 
pllow sun still blazed, and the sky flamed more 
jitensely than ever over the landscape of ash 
crinkled on the quiet and the living. 

* The Waves, by Virginia Woolf 



Tenderness 



A few years after I graduated from coll 
I began to consider seriously becoming a full t 
translator, or dividing my time between tre 
lating and teaching evenly. At the time I i 
unemployed, but I knew that I could easily 
tain a position at a Chinese or Vietnamese i 
versity teaching English, French, or Spanish. 

I had passed through college with 
notion of teaching English literature in a pri\ 
New England high school until I felt confid 
enough to support myself with my writing ale 
But that first month after graduation I was a c 
perate person. I'd always thought I'd publis 
volume or two of stories or poems and te. 
English or creative writing on the side. But lal 
the phrases had left me, and the solitary poe 
of music began to possess me instead. 

I was an excellent writer at times. At tir 
the elements of my phrase-making would c 
verge without any conscious deliberation to f 
duce a really fine, often beautiful work. It v 
entirely chance, though. Unlike my fellow str 
gling writers at the university, I couldn't seen 
pour myself into creation and construction. I 
did I want to. I didn't know at the time that w 
really obstructed self-immersion was the sus 
cion that self-contained strands of poetry w 



i 1 



pore perfect than any finely honed whole work, 
elf-contained as in a lyric strand with a life of 
s own. Later on it would mean contained in 
\e self. 

I backed out of the teaching position one 
lonth after graduation. My parents were so 
larmed by this unpredictable and foolish career 
love, the tired blank expression with which I 
resented the news and received their censure, 
iat the critical attacks died after three days. My 
Mother became frightened of me, even. 

As for my father, he understood every- 
iing: he had been forbidden to see again his son 
lorn another marriage when he married my 
iother. His son was three. When I rejected the 
jb he became convinced that his descendants 
fould be cursed, or at least haunted. 

My imminent marriage, I'm sure, influenced 
ly decision to become a translator. The proposal 
self was not the will of two individuals to alter 
ves, for better or for worse; it was an event that 
pesented itself to us. But it wasn't that Fd fore- 
men marriage upon first meeting my husband; 
pt at all. It was as if we were embarrassed by 
|e situation, wanting to laugh to relieve the fear 

I intimacy, ready to say, Here you are. Wanting 

I I laugh because it was silly that the essays in 
lench he turned in never mentioned the as- 
J'^ned topic, but elaborated on his interests and 
c pirations — so clearly phony. Then he asked 



me out for dinner and I was angry at the forttjy 
of our fated relationship when it was not t:te| 
love. 

He was my student but five years older tflrv 
me. I still don't know what brought himld 
China, but I do know that he was an idle phil i- 
derer at the time. During our first dinner d«el 
he told me he liked Chinese women. He vis 
surprised to learn that I was not Chinese, a.d; 
asked, "You are not comfortable with your bo f,\ 
am I right?" I was still angry, and now annoyU 
at his smugness. I realized later it was parti jai 
facade. I treated him with the same detachm<lit! 
I did the other students the next day, and he <jdj 
not seem to care. Then during the last week|m 
classes he approached me with much sincei y 
and tenderness in his face and asked me oulloj 
dinner once more. I was angrier than ever, aoj 
as he was telling me about his plans to movejoj 
the States I could only think about how his ph} 1-1 
cal charm and his moody handsome featupj 
were evanescent, and that if we were to hejej 
children they would probably be ugly and si[-| 
pering. 

The poems kept coming and my writi 
improved vastly. They were subtle in style, 
ceptively fluid, original in tone. I was pleas| 
with them but bored. When I told my fathcll 
wanted to drop creative writing and becomf 
translator, he was quite pleased. He belief 



hat my life would be more fulfilling that way. 
Ay mother was still furious with me for plan- 
ting to marry a Swedish man who grinned dur- 
ng stern occasions, laughed at others' silences, 
Lnd claimed he was marrying me because I 
vould be easy to live with. But he was genu- 
inely kind to me, and she was furious mainly 
because he was white. 

I always told my husband that what one 
rtust remember in life is the epiphanies that flash 
>ut once. Events are important, yes, they change 
lives but can occur to anyone. I am beginning to 
egret clinging steadfastly to that philosophy 
>ecause now I can barely remember what he 
Doks like. Six years after we married he ran off 
yith a humble Swedish woman. I'll show you, 
Le said, I can do whatever I want or don't want, 
j^nd just as my father wished in his heart that I 
each at the private school in New England, I 
lesired that he do the outrageous thing he prom- 
jsed. I began to feel near-aversion for him be- 
( ause he resented my anticipation. 

His fading face: it's the same with all the 
oreign landscapes I've seen, breathed in. Once 
could distinguish between the heat in China and 
he heat in Indonesia; would experience a French 
reeze in different nerves than a Brazilian breeze. 
>ut now nouns have more weight for me: a tree 
3 simply a tree. Long after he left me and I had 
•roduced many first-rate translations I was alone 



and a mess of unrecorded sentiments. 

My mother secretly approved of my m 
riage, was glad and expectant, after the ini 
month of outrage. She found herself attracte 
him and when he spoke to her she would em 
age herself as his bride. She approved priva 
because she wanted to experience him via 
ously through me, her flesh and blood. Wh 
she felt her time was near she made me prom 
that once he returned from his photography 
signment in China we would have children. 

I'll never understand why my father marr 
my mother; she demanded too much and offe] 
little. She insisted that once they marry he ne I 
see his son or his ex- wife again. And althoLU 
he kept his word, she continued to harass fl 
about his past life when she knew he was fai 
ful and devoted to me, his only daughter. 

What exactly was the connection betwt; 
choosing a career in translating and marriage 
felt that now that I was going to marry my h 
band it was time to stop linking the phrases 
gether like stones on a necklace. 

Once when I was visiting my parents rl 
father began to rant about the way I had led 1 
life. He swore that if I didn't remarry to a it I 
with at least black hair and lidless eyes he woi| 
torment me as a wraith for the rest of my daw 
promised I'd remarry. He thought I was lyij 
but at the time I really began to consider remar ; 



ng. But I didn't know where my husband was, 
nd told him that. 

We had been alone in the room and when 
emerged I found my mother in tears. You told 
dm but not me, she sobbed. Why didn't you 
ell me he'd left you? All this time, I'd been hop- 
ng... Her features were so malleable and sad, 
ier eyes so naive and selfish and watery. I'd 
ever felt such immense tenderness for her; and 
| was more than the forced intimacy of birth. 



Statement of Purpose 

The Chapbook was designed to showcase 
author who has distinguished him or herself in th 
Courant. It is a collection of the author's publish 
and previously unpublished work. 

We hope you will enjoy this selection of 
Maureen Chun's writing.. 



'over Art, "Study of The Longing for Happiness 
ulfilled in Poetry,' from the Beethoven Frieze by 
iustav Klimt" by Grace Rollins. 



Winter Term 1997 
Volume V, Number 1 




The Courant 



The Courant Editors 



Editors-in-Chief 
Caroline Whitbeck 
Kate Zangrilli 



Senior Poetry Editor 


Chief Fiction Editor 


Hillary Dresser 


Ida Higgins 


Poetry Editors 


Fiction Editors 


Charlie Finch 


Anne Bourneuf 


Julia Magnus 


Keeva McLeod 


Will Glass 


Julia Galaburda 


Maureen Chun 

X ~ X Civil vvll V — > * 1 V* K t 


Michelle KaJas 


Managing Editor 


Photo Editor 


Kieran ritzgerald 


Shivani Ready 


Art Editors 


Chapbook Editors 


Adam Tober 


Katharine Gilbert 


Laurie Kindred 


Eva Lane 


Submissions 


Publicity 


Rachel Rotman 


Jess Hellman 


Promotion 


Distribution 


Priya Motaparthy 


Lindsay McCarthy 



Layout & Design 
Erik Limpaecher 
Alex Ramp ell 

Faculty Advisor 
Craig Thorn IV 



Volume V, Number 1 



Winter Term 1997 



1 

Contents 



<Cover Illustration> 

Jan Smejkal 



Introduction: Cadence 8 

Craig Thorn 

j 

Using Force 17 

Caitlin Berrigan 

The Palm Leaf 18 

Christina Richardson 

Seaching for What Was In My Face 19 

Anthony Morales 

Livingston Street 22 

Yaqub Prowell 

Boston 24 

Caitlin Mulhern 

<Illustration> 25 

Ariel Lambe 

"The restless apparent ghoul. 26 

Zack Waldman 

Listening to Music I've Made 27 

Will Glass 



Love in a Panic 28 

Caroline Whitbeck 

A memento mori for my favorite dead dragon 30 

"Microwave dinner for the cold black sinner. . ." 31 

Zack Waldman 

It Blushed 32 

Caroline Whitbeck 

"Candy McGrew lay her head against the earth. . ." ... 34 
Mary Ziegler 

Lost In Zenith 39 

Yaqub Prowell 

"Nick Collins parted the shutters. 42 

"The watchers of Lemon County. . ." 44 

Mary Ziegler 

Pennsylvania New Year 47 

Jasmine Mitchell 

An Incident on Times Square 48 

Yaqub Prowell 



"Jake Edwards said we could use his garage. . ." 52 

Max Young 



Harvest Cycle 
Kate Zangrilli 



58 



"Dorothea Lange'sPlantation Overseer. . ." 71 

Caitlin Berrigan 

<Illustration> 7: 

Carl Dietz 

<Illustration> 7' 

Lisa Lake 



Permutations . 

Kate Zangrilli 



cat lives 8 

Erik Jungbacker 

The Remains 8 

Charlie Finch 

<Illustration> 8 

Jan Smejkal 

Goethe Dreams of Ottilie £ 

Kate Nesin 



At a Table Drinking Tea 
Kim Pope 



<Illustration> 
Lisa Lake 



"freshness of the voices. 
Hillary Dresser 



<Illustration> 

Shivani Reddy 



95 



boy 96 

Michael Chagnon 

<Illustration> 97 

Mimi Tseng 

"life beat..." 98 

Hillary Dresser 

'Arched..." 99 

Debbie Schwartz 

"...We must go and work in the garden." 100 

Man O'Brien 



\ <Illustration> 1 02 

Ariel Lambe 

Wenceslas Square 103 

Dan Sullivan 

Donjibaro 105 

Anthony Morales 



'Illustration> 107 

iriel Lambe 



The Infinite Jest 108 

^atrick Morrissey 



<Illustration> 10$ 

Dan Addison 

Two Sisters 1 1 C 

Ann Lin 



<Illustration> Ill 1 

Ariel Lambe 

"Ad Pyrrhum" (adapted from Horace 1.5) Ill 

Amy O'Neal 

If He Had Done it With His Hands 11: 

Julia Galaburda 

"Jason s Birthday, Up at Camp 5 1 1 ( 

Amy O'Neal 

James Brown Body 1 1< 

Caitlin Berrigan 

Anna Maria Island Martinique 12< 

Caitlin Berrigan 

"Conching for Tourists" 12 

Nathan Littlefield 

<Illustration> 12 

Lisa Lake 

The Fish Market 12 

Laura Oh 



<Illustration> 129 

Laura Oh 

"What was it like..." 130 

Kate Nesin 

Education 131 

Caroline Whitbeck 

i Phillips I 133 

uimy O'Neal 

i <Illustration> 134 

I Susannah Parker 

.men and salt 135 

Erik Junbacker 

In My Wake 136 

Nathan Littlefield 

"louder still..." 137 

Hillary Dresser 

true theme 138 

Cool Faded Automobiles 139 

Erik Jungbacker 

The Auto and its Consequence 140 

Will Glass 

a room reserved for architecture 142 

Erik Jungbacker 



Introduction: 
Cadence 



Poems mature and poets grow to them. Poems can make i 
poet grow just to complete them. In the Fall 1996 issue of Th 
Courant, several new voices find meaning in music. The names an 
striking: Kate Nesin, Caitlin Berrigan, Christina Richardson, Caitlii 
Mulhern. Is it a secret society, this colloquy of alliterative voice 
under the editorial aegis of Caroline Whitbeck and Kate Zangrilli 
At the risk of implying that the poems these four women produc 
are even remotely about the same thing, let me say that what strike 
me about all their work is the evocation of mood in a music that 
more often than not as still and sad as grandmothers favorite ba. 
lads from the 30's, dusty in brittle brown sleeves. 

Consider the halting cadence in Christina Richardson's v 
gnette "That Cycle of Leaves": 

We drive silent 

down a street overhung with branches 

and sunlight drops down from each hard consoling le 

to each it's own shadow as they smack across the hoo 

they seem to know they wave 

Goodbye Goodbye 

remind me of a murder, as they all seem to stand ove 

your sun blanket 
they wont they wont ^ 

"So this is where you live. 

He says— but he knows without telling cause he can 

see the books 
in their cases, each handkerchief in it's fold, the han< 

lotion on the counter and the piano's keys 
He drops me onto the lawn. 

Later I'll play some slow music— like a light left on, 
parent waiting up 



It makes my shoulders shudder. 
It makes me cry. 

Christina qualifies the tranquil image of leaves dropping from sun- 
light to their own shadows with the odd "smack" as if to announce 
that this poem will not render the event sentimental. These are hard 
consoling leaves and he will drop her onto the lawn. The rhythm of 
the poem shudders to its staccato of declarative sentences. Striking 
in this poem is the daring glimpse at the man's imagination of the 
speaker, itself a betrayal of poet's artifice. They are not necessarily 
flattering images as the pristine order of things seems to suggest a 
self-imposed loneliness, perhaps even an indulgence in feeling or at 
least solitary music. Handkerchiefs and books are perhaps escapes 
into emotion for emotion's sake or at least the privacy of feeling 
evoked by one's own experiences. The hand lotion which smooths 
the skin and the precision of the piano's keys implying that they are 
fused, the music and the hands that make it, is the drama of leaves, 
sun turning to its own shadow, in that place where the speaker lives. 

Christina is more explicit in "The Palm Leaf," a parable of 
the poet's art as an experience touched by her womanhood. Again, 
one detects some ironic distancing in the measure of this woman's 
artistic calling. The poet rather summarily enlists nature as instru- 
ment "as an owl night is just a syncopation." The repetition here is 
not a desperate note, but a sardonic one: 

Confusing purge with thirst 
until life and anger is just a 

reflection of a reflection of a reflection 

Using an image of denial often associated with young people, par- 
ticularly woman, Christina implies that this poet must create a 
aesthete's matyrdom that ultimately must be a tautology, the world 
reflecting and justifying her passionate tortured art. This image is 
3articularly ironic given the announcement at the outset that this 
3oet wants to be the "well-fed artist/Or poet — who are you to ob- 



9 



ject?" Throughout the poem, Christina implies that this poet is not 
honest with herself about her motives, and that the result is trou- 
bling, yes, but a bit funny too. In the "act" of groping for a man 
who can become God, she "stirs the palm leaf with her words." | 
perfect image here and a great example of how much one invent™ 
young poet can get out of a leaf in two poems, the palm leaf is th« 
ideal object, a reflection of her own hand and the secrets mappec 
out in "veins of veins of veins." So, the closing couplets are comij 
in their irony and naughtiness: 

Even she cannot predetermine 
the course of death or love 

Although it's a great job I might add 
Her hand gets sweaty on the stem 

That's right. Even she can't conquer the world she's carefully cor 
structed in her own easy art, in her own image of herself as artis 
"Although it's a great job" neatly refers both to the ability to predc 
termine her own life and to the pretense of art with which she'll ti 
to do it. "Her hand gets sweaty on the stem" might refer both to h« 
fashioning a self in the enterprise of making the world a big mirrt 
or to her sexual yearnings realized when putting the God at her sic 
as soon as she clutters the mirror's frame with all the proper wood 
land creatures. 

Caitlin Berrigan's poem "Using Force" approaches the id I 
of writing poetry in the same terms but in a radically different ton. 
The persona in her poem is confident and aggressive. Poetry is n 
ture muscled into the shape of a child who needs tough love 
survive and shine. A good poetic sensibility works the language < 
its own terms. Caitlin refuses to settle for conventional imagj 
Rather, she subverts them, taking the risk that she might not j 
able to salvage them. The language rises in part because the voice; 
strong and clear: 

I am going to force you out 



10 



out at rickety hours of the night 
and not look you in your purple-brown baby's face 
until you are blue with breath and white with life 

Immediately following the birth, the poet "suffocates" the child in 
precise images of lost innocence and death out of which she fash- 
ions beauty: 

and I am going to spit you on the ground with all 

the mushy cakes of split rotting apples and 
the dangerous gold of yellow jackets that decorate them 
and when you are stung with their venom and poked 
by their black high heels and antennae spears I might 
lift you and your tattered sleeves 

The wonderful interior rhymes create a music that promises the 
poet will convert the challenges of a women's life into a kind of 
steely feminine beauty: spit, split, lift, and in support rotting, jack- 
ets, tattered, sleeves and heels, pokes and black and cakes. Failed 
baking dangerous gold, high heels that sting all suggest a woman- 
hood that can kill with precision. Indeed, the striking image of the 
child carried back to the house in "my shoe with the innards suffo- 
cating your/sweet scented air of lightness" implies the sum total of a 
lif e that is too small. It is out of this smallness, however, that Caitlin 
raises the child/poem when she reaches a kind of climax of creation- 
until I reach my zenith, where my legs rank and whine/and my 
back finds shadows to be pillowed on/and I see the density of the 
sky. Sacred prayers flash out "your beauty and your beaten, burnt 
skin almost as if the molding process is a potterer's. Ironically, the 
result is a "ruddy foreign face," but the poet has wanted all along to 
create child/poem independent from herself and the very means 
snes used to make it. 



Elsewhere, Caitlin pours lives into little containers betray- 
ing quiet desperation. "Crowned With Pink Compact" pins the wife/ 
over to the mechanical ballerina's axis spinning in a music box, 
-urning to a quantity rather than a quality: "185 pounds of man " 



He is not greater than the sum of his parts; in fact, his one connec- 
tion is metonymic, the scoring of the surfaces in "Using Force" now 
details empty of spirit: 

kissing the scrape of his moustache 
each pore pouring rough black 
and each lip a red roll of a slug 

The synaesthesia of the first line, the combination of taste and touch 
is not ecstatic but grotesque. Indeed, the man tastes her, nearly swal- 
lows her, his stomach a globe: in effect, their "routined and dry' 
love making her whole world. The music in the poem's closing line: ' 
summarizes the wry, bitter tone of the poem: 

and she could lie, patterned panties 
removed at the thigh. 

Her life is a self-deception, the no doubt delicate design of her pantie 
of no interest to him and certainly of no consequence to their rela 
tionship. Consider that he is not present. Their condition exists ii 
and of itself, defined only by a clinical observation about wher' 
they once were. 

The crown in "Graduation: Hurling Through the Rite cj I 
Passage" is a cap that will be a "toy for her tiny brown children. 
This time, the speaker is a mother watching her daughter graduat 
"premature." While the situation is not novel, the fear pervadin! 
this poem is palpable because what the mother sees in her daughter j 
future is her own present, and she herself is responsible for th; j 
future. If the daughter's "split-faced grin" is the same "worn srnhV j 
she strapped on her mouth throughout the — premature — years | I 
the daughter learned it from the mother who tries to "clap arj j 
hoot away our fears and doubts/as we beamed, beamed, beamed j 
The repetition sounds like a hammer blow. Sound plays hard J 
"Graduation." The daughter "houses accents of, 



12 



car shows, drop-outs, baby photos, blonde curls... 
eyeliner heavy as tar, early marriages and thread-thin styles 

(alcohol cut down the back throats 

of me) 

burgundy-black sugar koolaid. 

rhe mother is thinking of Sylvia Plath's American 50's, when a wife 
ust might be a function of tract housing and automated hearths. 
Dressed in black, the mother seems to sense a funeral at hand, her 
daughter's. The crudest cut is that she's trained her daughter to 
sleep through time travel and so the daughter shuts her mother out. 
rhe daughter has learned the "grinding affectation of nice/young 
Aroman." 

Like Caitlin Berrigan, Kate Nesin wants to recreate the 
iounds of her mother's generation's youth. Kate's tone and the tenor 
}f her images reveal the wizened perspective from which she regards 
ler childhood's fantasies of her mother's youth. She is clear through- 
Dut that she is remembering what she used to feel. The poem devel- 
Dps on two sets intertwining images: surprising weather in the sum- 
mer, and brittle things. Nesin brings them together quite literally in 
music. The summer before she was born was hot, the summer after 
'bordering on cold." Kate remembers this "fierce juxtaposition" by 
running "metal pieces like forks/along a metal rim." The tines of 
the forks on metal anticipate the quicker clip of stiletto heels on 
iummer sidewalks during successively warmer summers. Kate clev- 
erly transforms that sound into a creaking violin or viola, or even a 
/iola da gamba. The increasing size and of course deepening reso- 
,iance of the imagined sound suggests both the fragility of the mu- 
;ic played and the sense of lightness moving to weight implied in 
jieels that will shrink to the size of men's dull sneakers and loafers, 
puns I am tempted to accept later in the poem. For Kate as a child 
hinks the "fabulously high, high heels" are worn as a stay of execu- 
ion or worse, leveling. The poem's structured sound insists on that 
ate: 



13 



...wore fabulously high, high heels with their white skirts, 
walking next to their men, 

dwarfed in sneakers and loafers which didn't shine. 

I thought it was to let the shoes 

last longer, the heel being longer, 

wearing down, down, taking years 

to reach the flatness of my shoes, 

many summers until they wore through. 

The repetition at first mirrors her excitement, "wore" linked witr 
"white." But the harsh sounds to follow figuratively wear that im- 
age down. The reflective tone captured in the qualified remembrana 
"last longer, the heel being longer" actually finds a rhythm that slow, 
with what must have been a revelation settling like years on th< 
little girl. "The heel being longer" faintly echoes the certainty of th< 
original sense and the "down, down" falls like premature leaves in I 
summer bordering on cold. "Wore through" collapses "wore fabu 
lously" and raises the ominous question, Wore through to what? 

The speaker vows to wear them year round because she like 
the shape of legs in "such built up shoes." That vow cannot be kep i 
because the stilettos will snap, the sound of the heels reminding he 
"of the crack of trees,/in nipping weather and wind,/whether in thi 
summer months, /or the winter ones." "Weather" and "whether 
reminds us that chance itself is unavoidable. Kate knows what 
inevitable in that fragile height the comes down slow through th) 
years or hard in sudden weather. 

The women in Caitlin Mulhern's poems have weathered har i 
times, but they whip-smart in their own experience. "33rd Stree I 
features a speaker as strong as the mother/poet in "Using Force."]] 

I have no remorse 
lovers, buyer's, seller's 
I have no regret 
morning, afternoon, night 
cause I have it all 



14 



I 



I got that memory of good living 

Irue, what follows is a litany of unkind rendevous with men all of 
which are reduced to marks left on her: "visine addiction," "discon- 
lected phones," "mirror mooning," and "roof passion." The sheer 
mergy of the poem, however, powers through these memories of 
;exual awakening and loss because the speaker has initiated all of 
:hem. The simple listing and repetition of "I got it" demonstrates 
Jie speaker's hunger for the experiences, the bad with the good. 

However, the real victory for this woman is her assertion at 
Jie end: 

over those lessened by destiny and speechless advice 
that somehow named me wise 
but I got it and I'm glad 

Unlike women around her who allowed fate and convention's silent 
udgment to lessen them, she somehow achieved the wisdom they 
Dorrowed or accepted, and now she is wise despite speechless ad- 
rice. Caitlin continues this line of thinking in "9 Years" where we 
rind a woman splitting away from her peers who have "mastered" 
the art of making proper perfect. Like a genius in a cul de sac pacing 
Dehind faux medieval raised basement windows, this woman has 
learned feng shui and "spanish like a madwoman." What she knows, 
3f course, is her own music: "that piano/in the dark man." She is a 
parragon [sic] /of nude midnights": 

on stools 

in showers 

on diving boards 

That is her music she finds in the dark man. She transforms the 
ivet, high places in her domesticity into exotic zones. The poem 
leceives in its simplicty for the pride attained her differs from that 
vhich chokes her and others. Yes, she is obsessed with the obses- 
ion that rules other women, but I think that Caitlin wants us to 



15 



believe that the speaker herself is obsessed with her own obsession, 
the difference being that the former is an obsession with a woman is 
supposed to be and the latter is an obsession with a woman can 
become. 



I have not touched on all the poems by these poets in this 
issue. In fact, I may have neglected the best poem. Poetry alone 
does not bring these women together. And these four women are 
not the only reason to read The Courant. Kim Ballard and Katherine 
Gilbert, two women who are veterans to these pages contribute 
powerfully. Caroline's poetry hovers over these new poems. Kate's ! 
creation Kate Cassidy, re-drafter of the world's architecture in pho- 
tography brings us full circle for a series of Kate Nesin's photograph; 
offers a stirring closing image. Recreating the child's game, "here-is- 
the-church, this-is-the-steeple," Kate shoots a sequence that freeze: 
the steps against a black wall across which a sharp angle of ligh 
narrows to black when we open the doors and see all the people 
Don't be fooled by the developing image. The wall darkens, th< 
hands become translucent. 



The Smitty Prize for the Fall 1996 issue of The Courar, 
goes to Christina Richardson for her poem "The Palm Leaf" am 
Caitlin Berrigan for her poem "Using Force." Two poems abou 
poetry and women. 



Craig Thorn 



16 



Using Force 



I am going to force you out 

out at rickety hours of the night 
and not look you in your purple-brown baby's face 
until you are blue with breath and white with life 

and I am going to spit you on the ground with all 

the mushy cakes of split rotting apples and 
the dangerous gold of yellow jackets that decorate them 
and when you are stung with their venom and poked 
by their black high heels and antennae spears I might 
lift you and your tattered sleeves 

carry you in my shoe with the innards suffocating your 

sweet scented air of lightness 
until I reach my zenith, where my legs rank and whine 
and my back finds shadows to be pillowed on 
and I see the density of the sky and bite the brick with 

my eyes 

and then 

I might pull you out by your arms, roll you 

onto your stomach and onto your feet and recite your 

sacred prayers 
flash out your beauty and your beaten, burnt skin 

because you are a poem and you have to be hard 
and you have to have been everywhere, every color 
singed by every poison and rashed by every texture 

then and only then will I speak of you, 
look into your ruddy foreign face 

eye by pregnant eye. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



17 



The Palm Leaf 



She wants to be the well-fed artist 
Or poet — who are you to object? 

She sees the moon as a tool for a gail 
as an owl night is just a syncopation 

Confusing purge with thirst 
until life and anger is just a 

reflection of a reflection of a reflection 

Groping for the man who can lift her 
or lean in one breath and become God 

She stirs the palm leaf with her words 
the palm leaf fans with veins 

of veins of veins of veins 

Even she cannot predetermine 
the course of death or love 

Although its a great job I might add 
Her hand gets sweaty on the stem 



Christina Richardson 



18 



Seaching for What Was In My Face 



The writer hunts for his prey 
an idea for the poem 
Frustrated with writer's block 
Ant-boogie hits the streets 
searching for a thought 

He walks through 

he concrete suburb 

and first comes to a bodega 

he center of many previous ideas 

Maybe an ice cold Malta will be the remedy 

Ant goes to the back of the bodega 

peruses the Alpo and Goya product 

aisle to find his salvation 

but when he cracks open the chest 

he discovers no Malta Goya or Vitarroz 

that would stimulate his mind 



Even more frustrated 
he starts to walk 
forever it seems 
towards his abuelita's house 
which is in C&C territory 
On his way 

he passes by similar street corners 

and hears la musica del Bronx 
lively salsa and merengue beats 
being blasted from La Mega 
mixed with the hardest hip-hop from 
Hot 97 

fused with the classic soul of Kiss 
All of which cant compete 
with a quiet hustler's piece 
that Big Willies kick in a fiend's ear 



19 



on every corner 

What'chu want kid? 
Blue caps red caps 
Just as solid as my naps 
Nickel dime 

Guaranteed to fuck you up in time 
Snow blow 

What you wanna know 

Yeah I got some crack 

5-0 coming betta watch yo'back 

All Ant wants is his abuelitas 
arroz con gandules for his idea 
not these hoes 
disadvantaged youth 
offering things that even 
Big Ant wants to reject 
for prices he can't refuse 
He recognizes the stringy one 
in the pom-pom shorts 
and dirty halter top 
She was in his homeroom 
Her eyes carry a lot of luggage 
and many tear riddened nights 
Danm Ant says 

as he hears the rattle of the #2 train above him 

Where are the gardens of John Adams 

He reaches abuelitas projects 

for his arroz con gandules 

In the lobby 

the jibaro's eyes call him 

to hear his lamentos 

His eyes contained the sadness 

of a whipped dog and 

his wrinkled skin and thick fingers 

revealed many days en el campo 



20 



Jibaro grumbles some Spanish 
unknown to Ant 

Tu sabe quien es Albizu Campo... Libertad o Muerte. . . 

America es un grupo 
de maricones... Viva Puerto Rico y la revolucion 
It shakes Ant because 
finally the truth had been told 

He makes his way up the stairs 

and doesn't stop to notice the customaries 

the hieroglyphics on the wall 

the pile of baby ca ca on the 2nd floor 

the young couple that makes out on the 5th floor 

(he heard that she's due soon) 

the burnt hallway of the 6th floor 

and now finally the sweet smell of the rice and peas 

quietly sitting in the pot 

Abuelita greets him at the door 

and the journey is over for the idea 

The poem wrote itself 



Anthony Morales 



21 



Livingston Street 



Sidewalks of time and shattering conveyor belts 
In the mail room of destiny the live fur dances with th< 
felts 

Pencils of madness write on paper of peace 
Where radioactive mice eat governmental cheese 
And I don't know what I'm gonna do 
"Cuz an alligator bit me ; took ma goddamn shoe 
A self-denying pilot is flying overhead 
A polyester prostitute lying in his bed 

I'm tired , so tired of the institutions 
Who insult intelligence when they're supposed to uphoL 
it 

It's flustering , frustrating , what do you say 
'Bout the polysemous messages they convey? 
I thought about quittin' , I thought about movin' 
I thought about winnin' , I thought about losin' 
I ain't givin' up 
I ain't go in' down 

I ain't gonna shatter like the shattering psyche 
Of the sad clown 

'Cuz things come together and things fall apart 
But none of that matters in the matters of the heart 
Foundations remain where buildings collide 
When dead surrealism was washing in with the tide 
The stench of the devil's gym bag lingers 
Rancid aroma attracting bees with their stingers 
Brain waves dissolve when they meet cathode rays 
Two opposing wavelengths so neither of them stay 
And is that the way you come to a resolution 
When your head goes ahead to an automatic illusion! j 
Fly in the sea , swim in the sky 
And I'm tired , so tired of rolling on by and by 

22 



And I don't know what I'm gonna do 
c Cuz an alligator bit me ; gave me them Nigger-Rican 
blues 

A self-denying pilot is flying overhead 
A polyester prostitute lying in his bed 



Yaqub Pro well 



23 



Boston 



I'm trippin' 

underneath 

the fog breath 

of my bleary toes 

because 

they are white 

with 28 degree 

exhilaration 

and shocked 

at their colorless faces 

against the sewer 

water mirror 

because my open-toed shoes 
took the roof off their heads 
and I left them naked and screaming 
like little babies born of mother foot 



Caitlin Mulhern 



24 



Ariel Lamb e 
25 



"The restless apparent ghoul../ 5 



the restless apparent ghoul 

moves across smooth smooth floor 

his shole shakes 

his soul bakes 

mind split wide open 

mind-fryin sweetmeat gatherin man 
gallivant and spin 
and the finger went in! 
you got the dog man? 
and the answer be yes. 

blowhard crabby in the 

television cemetary. 

olive oil grease 

and he slides! 

slides to the side 

in the crimes of the mind 



Zack Waldman 



26 



Listening to Music I've Made 



Listening to music I've made 
(hearing the notes I played) 
Listening to a bleating ghost 
with his throat torn up and frayed 

Well I'm hearing myself think- 
and describing it in verse 
is like trying to make your 
children breed 
It's like tattooing a supple 
heart on your own forehead- 
the perversity kills me 

I'm watching my own blood spill out 
It's dark maroon and syrupy 
pouring down my chin and 
marring the spinning spokes. 
It pools on the pavement. 

I'm gutting myself 
the hair on my forearms glistening- 
then immersed in the September 
lake water, which smacks my 
chest, chills and chides me 
in crests of hums and swells- 
waves to wash the blood away 
waves to wash my shaggy hair 

I'm listening to music I made 

my guts on the floor, soggy and displayed 



Will Glass 



27 



Love in a Panic 



a bluebeard and a blackwidow 

stopped at lunch to steep in tea sometimes 

breaking the cut glass, the fine goblet 

with all the shrillest: "there will be no more of you! 

no spoons, no cups, no knives." 

it all resounding great like a Brahma bull 
with baby's breath breathing 
(the economics of you — two windbags) 
or bellows 

and oh baby in the gold chain been hanging 
loose Lucy around the bankclerk and all 
those dollars Bill's been kissing your pinkies 
rings, darling, and other things you haven't gotten 

yet! I bit you once, like gold 

just to see who you were, what harvested beneath 

your surface earth 

(all mining, strip-mining) 

and I lost you once at the backdoor 
broke your ankles and shoved you 
down a flight of stairs — listening 
to your resounding crash, an avalanche 
of icetrays 

and when you sprayed to a stop, 
I had to coop and kiss 
all your darkened underclothes, 
that beat breast warmth 

of pectorals where once we kept a keel and flew 
or a great slippery heart like a peach pit 



28 



so dark, dank and dark, rank 
armpitted the lost salt where the sea 
goes to break or to die, intertidal 

with a crab or a scallop lopped upon the crag rocks — 
nipple rooks, two crows who stoop and stare — beady 

toweling then after his breath 
the lace it pulls, the sprays of old flowers 
it puffs and doilies in the air — an old lady's 
bedroom Jesus dust ruffle 

and then the all-encompassing helldark below 

rooted axis to axis, a tight gape like a star, 

a pull or a pole hotwired like a tree or a lamppost 

boy, buoyant above the dashing young rocks for you, 
heave heel of red wet muscled straps 
bounding your snail guts, projectile stomach, sex, an 
tongue — 

a red alert or a spiked drink 

horsing around stirrupped to the buckles of your hips 

where Sex, divining rod, 

slung nose-down like a dog, quivers 

and all points after it. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



29 



A memento mori 
for my favorite dead dragon 

sorry that me iliac crest is not perfectly rounded, 
not smooth white bone glistening in the morning sun 
sorry that my words aren't as sweet as the ones you thin! 
of; 

but that's to be expected. 

and your eyes search, wandering curious brown orbs o 
disdain 

sorry, that you couldnt seem to locate me in your rod 

and cones 
at any rate. 

the sun is shining, the day is bright, you're makin 

melanin, and 
as I write and you rot and a final protective umbrella 

being tautly stretched 
over your skin 

sorry, that you're done and I've just begun, dragon. 



Zack Waldman 



30 



1 



"Microwave dinner 
for the cold black sinner. . 



microwave dinner for the cold black sinner 
and the dress is worn, my legs not warm 
styrofoam box on the greengrass lawn 
hepcat dawn and my mind is gone 
and help the poor boy who's lost his shoes 
help that urchin sing his blues 

the big dog cries cause his master died 
save the baby, the gorilla cried 

"It wasn't the smart slang of today's youth, but the polite 
family talk of my childhood." 



Zack Waldman 



31 



It Blushed 



a little snug around the heels, she was, a lozenge 
wishing comic pages and cough tonics 
through the Super Marvel Man of Ages 
who might come crashing through the window, now 
at any minute 

though she is tired! 
of what, love? the spooning weight 
of eggcreams, of an elbow pad 
or an eyelid — when saucy, winking saucers, poor 
lovebug! she sidesteps and spills 

wet ragging of days! baby on her knees, again 
baby on the elbow grease, again, 
it is lemon scented 

like the Lone Star, once her lover 
a Seven League Boot Landstrider 
who left her 
for a sugar cube 
in the woolly red midwestern 
night where electric hamburger boy 
flexes stretches of freeway thigh 

with the radio 

antenna singing like his skin, 
condensation trembling like a lip, like 
an ice cube in a wax cup 

where she, slung against the automatic 
doorlock sat cold with the car alarm 
leaning on the steering 
wheel to catch 
the clutch up in her teeth — 



32 



and here! she is 

hounded by cherry stems and reptilean 
cocktail napkins, the red of ambulettes 

and Time stuck in the tines 

of forks, the instantaneous geraniums 

smashed in the crosswalks, 

the Marvel Man stops, fiddles with his watch fob 

and she is left leaning on every periphery, every 
window pane 

she shoves her tongue down his street 
she sucks off the stop sign. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



33 



"Candy McGrew lay 
her head against the earth. 

Candy McGrew lay her head against the earth, pressed he 
ear against the folds of ant mountains, and waited to hear its heart 
beat. It had one, she knew well, and it was much stronger thai 
anyone's own. 

She listened often now. The time had long grown old fo 
jarring the firebugs with their paned wings, who alighted over th 
weather vanes and the chimney stacks to break the night if the stai 
flickered out. Behind the scrapyard where robots and spaceship 
went to die, the dandelions had kept their heads on for a whiL 
There were times for her to listen. No one came to force the guts ( 
oatmeal or spoonfuls of oil and vinegar apple juice down her throa 
No one came to tuck the noose of blanket around her neck. The.' 
was no one to leave their arms around her, and no one to ever td 
her that they loved her. 

Candy had ladled many secrets from the air as she walke j 
the line the grey catkins made along the road, past the shack whe 
her parents used to live, and where a wiry man now gnawed at cha 
legs and took frying pans to the back of rats and wife alike. 

Candy knew how the shadows trembled with laughter, f 
they were always taller than you at birthday parties when they me I 
sured against notches in the wall. She had been told how to walk (I 
the ceiling and how to keep your pennies and slingshots in yoj 
pocket when you did. She had heard the beating wings of the leavi; 
that chased your shoelaces, and she could pick out the fire hydrarli 
and hedges they hid behind when you looked for them. She kn<' 
where the ghosts camped by the railroad tracks, crying with t : 
train as it shrank against the horizon. She had heard the air closi;; 
over the sick beds and the wheelchairs of the rest home, and she h|l 
heard the cracks that whittled their way past padlocks and wind* y 
shutters as they made their way into other peoples' hearts. She hp 
heard time end and then, burdened and weary, begin again. Th je 

33 I 



was only one thing Candy wished to hear, double-fisted, eye-squeez- 
ing wished, as the grass spoke to her ear and the wind and the earth: 
the footsteps of someone coming to stroke her hair from her wet 
cheek, to keep her cheek dry forever, and to hold her and maybe 
even love her just for once. And then the silence for Candy McGrew 
would never be again. 

Candy knew a place away from time, knotted into the worn 
threads of subway rail, behind the unscrubbed ears of earth. It was 
a place far away from closed fists and hot dog stands and it was all 
for her. 

Many a day was forgotten watching all the people go by on 
the way to the subway cars, top-spinning so fast that you lost where 
their feet ended and the road began. Even God rushed by, with 
dove on wing and candy canes, for the only way anyone has to get 
where they need to is on the subway, after all. They all had wisdom 
for her, maybe so, but it was all strands of alphabet soup through 
her ears. No one liked to see little girls with dirty fingernails and 
missing-toed shoes sitting alone on subway benches. They couldn't 
see Mrs. Green though. No one could. 

Mrs. Green wore church-going shoes, with a shadow of a 
beard to tickle all the pews. Those shoes had a squeak known to the 
angels that she had been singing to and believing in all the while. 
Her door had a welcome mat that was clean no matter how often 
you came by, and she could wiggle her ears. She always had water 
j boiling just beneath her nose, and the steam and bubbles held jockey 
races through your fingers and out the kitchen door. Mrs. Green 
would braid Candy's hair snug against her ears, and it held her bet- 
ter than anyone really could, even if they tried. They skipped rope 
in the parlor next to the fish tank and spoke sonnets to the wind to 
carry to lonely people. Mrs. Green wasn't afraid of climbing trees, 
:and she was in love with the night as much as Candy was, and she 
lilit her fireworks and birthday candles from the flame of the stars. 
o|She never had to sneeze and she never lost a single tooth. She could 
i have gone to Greenland or Tanzania, but she never would because 
leshe would miss Candy too much. Mrs. Green would cry for her so 

35 



hard that no gift, no kiss, or book of paper dolls, or banana in hei 
cereal bowl could end it. Someone would cry for her, see, someone 
would. 

But sometimes Candy wondered if she was clutching tin 
elbow of a shadow, or holding the hand of empty air, or whether th< 
silence had taken Mrs. Green away. 

Candy listened, as Sunday yawned. Puddles of obituarie 
were washed away by the rain, because the Steptoe Standard couldn 
make its way to the promised porch after the paper boy had gone I 
She needn't open her eyes, because there was nothing left to seel 
The tent where the revivals were held would be loose-tooth hang 
ing on the mountains' edge, collapsing into itself as everyone lef 
They would be hiding corn-on-the-cob and watermelon moor 
under their jacket tails and petticoats. The only ones who ever stayec 
through amen and amen, were the nest of hornets who lived in 
patch above the circus ring of pews. The ribs of the valley weij 
covered in unshaven piles of slag from the smelter. It was too ugly 
town to jump rope on the corners or shoot marbles along the alle^ 
ways. Too ugly to look at again. Steptoe never changed, but Cane 
had heard all about it. About how all Earth was a sink of dirty plat 
crashing into one another to form mountains, and she knew ho| 
you could end change with wrinkle creams and dead watches. 

It was all silly to her though, and it would never do her ai 
good. Johnny would always love Susie on the wall of the bathroo | 
stall, and Bach's voice would always be different over the radio, ail 
no one would ever come for her. It felt as though someone we 
web-weaving over her heart as she waited, and she was worried th : 
soon she would have no heart left. 

She had crossed lakes of sewer drain in Steptoe, frozen o> r 
in mud and ice and had passed the fruit bowl of used pick-ups it 
Fred's Emporium. She had kept both hands as she skirted past tfc 
grizzly dog who guarded the pirates of the pawn shop and she h i 
stepped in the wells of gum and chew and cusses in the entrance i 
Jackal Jerry's Casino. It was all worth it, though, to go to the ] b 

~36~ 



One House. It had no welcome mat or porch beacon but you knew 
well enough to come in. There were no real doors in the No One 
House anymore, only the veins of cobweb that visiting spiders had 
given. There were no real rooms either, but she was sure of the 
kitchen; it smelled far too much like burnt grease and oven range. 
And maybe a bedroom that smelled of a lady's song and lace. It had 
a balcony in spitting distance of its neighbors and shutters on the 
windows that let in the moon once it was invited. The floors whined 
once in a while if you tapdanced on them or dared to tie your shoe, 
but Candy wasn't ever afraid they would let her fall. She knew that 
house too well and it knew her. 

So, she strangled her feet between the bars of the balcony 
and waited until Sunday shut its eyes and then she went inside to 
sleep next to the end of the day. 

She opened her eyes just in time to make it down the rusty 
ladder and there in a heap at the bottom was a boy. His knees were 
praying with the ladder rail and had the most admirable grass stains 
she'd ever seen. His head was in his hands, and all she could see were 
the beams of hair coming through his fingers. She reached for his 
hand to see his eyes. "Are you lost?" she wondered. 

He startled up. "No, I can't be lost really. I'm a travelling 
man. I ran away, that's all. My name is Elijah McCoy. I'm sorry I 
left your bike on your porch and slept under your ladder." 

"No, it's not mine. It's no one's. My name's Candy McGrew," 
she said and slid over the floorboards to shake his hand, her sneak- 
ers singing off key. "What did you run away from?" 

"From love. It makes my stomach worse than fried beans 
and carnival rides, Candy. I'm sure its what kills dogs dead in the 
middle of the street and what steals balls if they roll down the hill 
too fast. It steals friends too, steals them right away and leaves you 
^with no one." 

"My daddy used to say he loved my mom, but I know why 
t :he frying pan bled and the candlestick bent and her eyes were black." 

"Let's not bother with love anymore, even if it's just you and 
Tie." So they pinky swore and spit in a circle and it was done. 
"What is it like to be a traveling man?" Candy asked. 

37 



"Well, the grass and hills are for you to roll down and al 
the wind is yours to breathe, and before you know it, the sky i« 
kissing right back and the wind is breathing through you." 

"Sounds beautiful. A place to be. I'll never have one, I bet.' 

"You have a place now. With me." 

Mary Ziegler 



1 



38 



Lost In Zenith 



Perhaps it was a screwy ultimatum darling 

After all , mortification did twist the pure screw 

Into the depths of unsatisfactory boyhood 

And conspirators contradicted and implied 

And realizations were only arrived via that paternal train 

It's strong dark engines , purring with the life force of 

thousands before us 
Saying , "Be happy you ain't got it all together". 

It's a plunge into the polluted waters of mendacity 
When obsession places the ugliness and filthiness 
Of she who is not happy 
Upon the pedestal of the Virgin Mary 

When to touch is to confess 

To the clandestine imperfections of one who calls you a 

liar 
And a fake 

And an insubstantial facade 
Only because your face 

Gleaming with the luster of unconditional love 
Was used as a mirror 
Reflecting regrettable impurities 

Nevertheless , the sweltering heat captured by the 
asbestos of a classic Brooklyn Edifice , did not derail 
the train of your 

Dreams. 

Trying to keep check of reality while the fantasy played 

on the movie screen of your 
Imagination. 
Knowing , sensing 
Deep within the ravine of your heart 
That your emotions were leading you on 



39 



And why oh why did I meet you at the zenith of my 
dreams of that non-existent pie in the sky 

On a wintry , disheveled road ; your steel eyes looking 
through me 

Saying , "Boy , I will teach you a lesson you will neve i 
forget. And though you may hate me for doing thi: 
to you 

You will love me for excavating you from your hostilt 
nation of naiveness , so you will be allowed to see) J 
asylum from that which projects insecurities 01 
you. 

And it was then that the compulsiveness was lifted lik | 
a great veil sewed with the threads of a magician j 
secrets 

And the cruel bizarreness , which gnawed like j 
threatening undertone on the gentle melody of 
streetlight sonata , dissolved into the air with non j 
so much as a goodbye. 

So I joyfully ran head first like a screwdriver that dril 

such things as parametric functions 
And arrived at the next conclusion via that same patern 

train 

That life can only be analogous to a complicated arn 

of mathematical functions 
Intersecting every now and then to either 
Intersect again 
Remain parallel 

Acquire the same domain and range 
Or move farther and farther from the point 
intersection as time continues 



And the melodic derivative of such things as amazi 
grace 

Supplanted the song of sadness that originated from t 



40 



peculiar institution 
Referred to as unreciprocal love 

Then the holy revelation of freedom elaborated itself 
When it was noticed that the song was not written for 
her. 

You wrote it for you. 
And of course... 

For while you were a mirror in which she perceived all 
that is incorrect and Unjustifiable by the erroneous 
excuse of peer pressure 

She was a mirror in which you saw all that is noble. 

Peace has finally arrived like the scent of a summer rain 

evaporating off the hot pavement 
And the streetlight sonata plays clear and true. 



Yaqub Pro we 11 



41 



"Nick Collins parted the shutters. | 



Nick Collins parted the shutters and met the night. H< 
could make out laughter, a couple skating, all moustaches of coco; 
and sidewinding scarves shadowing the ice as they went. In th« 
morning there would be figure eights and names carved in trees. Ii 
the morning he would be alone. 

Nick used to have friends, to buy boats of french fries an<j 
to try to rent the dirtiest sort of movies with. Friends to tell hi 
secrets to over comic books, until they forgot the hour and the frencl 
fries and who had won the bet on the football game and only re 
membered each other. Now they were gone, he was sure of tha 
much. They would be waiting on the alley stretch behind the paw 
shop, playing drinking games with garbage cans as equals, trash 
talking basketball with banana peels and debating girls who ha 
nice asses with cat food cans. Nick wished he could sidestep int 
the alley and flip a monster-gun barrel out of his trench coat an 
explode their heads like popcorn. The only problem was, he didr 
have a trench coat. 

He longed for them as he ran his fingers back over the shu 
ters, bringing the cloak of dark back around his shoulders. It ke( 
them away. They had said that he was a pretty boring guy, and th; 
his ears were far too big and freckly. He had heard through lock 
grates and inscriptions etched into lunch trays. 

Maybe Dad would be home now, chewing away the tabl 
cloth with his account papers, to say "How are you doing, son?" 
his wrinkles bowed away. Or Mom would be nursing her hangov 
with stale-cellar tomato juice and would make him a cheese san« 
wich for forgiveness. Someone to keep him warm. Someone. 

Nick faded past his light switch and into the hall and beg; 
down the stairs, but the dark had forgotten the nail on the landin 
the angry nail always being put ofF until time was found again ! 
after eggnog at Christmas. It remembered Nick well enough thougi 
and it caught him. And then he was falling, falling, like a frontli 
of nutcrackers, falling until he was no more than a cracked nut |: 
the bottom of the stairs. 

42 



A cocoon of arms came around him and he knew. Next time, he 
/ould reemerge with stained-glass wings and he would be beauti- 
ul, ready to take on anyone for a game of horse. Everything would 
e all right. Next time. 



Mary Ziegler 



43 



"The watchers of Lemon County. . 



The watchers of Lemon County, Tennessee, wore black sock 
and veiled eyes as they lined the road, waiting to catch a glimpse o 
the Collins boy's hearse. Someone at the drug store had said that hi 
mother had worn a pearl-pin from a flea market and that his fathe 
had played the horse races still this morning, before the funeral 
The lottery ticket window spoke of a limo, large enough to hos 
Olympic Swimming or hold all 3 of your great aunts after a thin 
helping of Thanksgiving yams. So they waited. But soon, stone 
were kicked across the road and the morning paper was drawn ou 
of coat pockets. A funeral was one thing in Lemon County, bu 
diner eggs would always be sunny-side up and no one called off th 
morning. You could wait for the Collins boy but time had alread 
gone for breakfast. 

Sandy Breizer knew all this. Lemon County was an oil 
woman set in her ways. It only changed its scarf during downy snov> 
falls. No one realized change even then, except for the cars in th 
diner lot. Winter felt different when you were a Buick. 

Sandy waited until the red lacquer set just right on her nai 
before she drowned lime slices in the water pitcher and headed o 
for table 2. 

"You folks don't look like you're from around here. Picked a fir 
time to come to Lemon County. You won't see bare leg or liquor i 
bags on the street now. There's a funeral, a limo the size of a tank, 
hear. The kind of funeral where black tie and brushed teeth a 
required." Table talk had always brought customers' eyes to her ar 
tips to her apron pocket, but not this time. One menu sat in fro 
of a little boy, no older than his 10 year old sneakers crossed on t( 
of the table. The other lay limp at a man's side, his eyes looking ps 
the duel of the salt shaker and the napkin sentry, looking out t 
checked curtains. She couldn't see why anyone with eyes that gre 
had to look outside. 

"Where you fellows from?" she asked. 

"Nowhere," the boy rnumbled, fingers tapping on the me] i I 
binding. "Could you make me a waffle with M and Ms, maybe I 



44 



"Or a warm place to sleep?" the man asked, rubbing the 
>oy's hand in his. 

"You could stay in my dad's tent. He's dead, has been for 
juite a while, but a tent is always just the same." She could see it as 
he spoke, dressed in khaki on top of the trailer fridge, sitting with 
ler father's rifle, waiting for him to come back. 

"Thanks," the boy said, "But do you serve chocolate milk 
his early?" So she shook the man's hand. His name was Aaron Mc- 
Zlean, and she felt no ring as she shook. So all day she dreamed, 
>etween hash browns and oven grease, of a man with a green eyes. 

She took them places she used to go alone, hearing steps 
)ther than her own spit through the snow. She took them by where 
he Parliament of Snowmen held court at the elementary school 
>efore they melted away into no more than a carrot, and under the 
lighway bridge, where sparrows and bums got beauty rest, as people 
vent away from her in those cars. 

So they came to the trailer park gate, strung with dead Christ- 
nas bulbs and mailboxes. The boy, Elijah, had a warm milk to thaw 
lis hand and a song the sparrows taught him. Nick Collins watched 
he weeds begin to weave over his eyes and his friends tried out 
:hewing tobacco with the garbage cans. And Sandy watched Aaron's 
yes. 

"So have you found what you're drifting for yet?" she asked. 
Varon shook his head in time with the drip in the sink. "How can 
rou know there's anything for you to find?" she wondered at the 
loles in his jeans. 

"I never feel lost when I'm looking, and sometimes my 
;hadow needs to walk ahead. I could never be so sure of looking if 
here were nothing for me to find." It was awfully easy to believe, as 
he lay her head against the hole in the couch. She had found him. 

Maybe the dawn's glare at the toaster woke her, or it was the 
>pera of junkyard cats on a fence, but she was almost sure that it 
v2ls his footsteps. "You're leaving," she said without waiting for his 
nswer. "You know I can't go with you. Old people at the counter 
/ill need doughnuts and extra napkins. I like Lemon County, neigh- 
boring with icicles and dancing with my breath on my way to work. 



45 



And what if there really is nothing to find?" 

His answer was in his hand as he squeezed hers. "Good luck,' 
she whispered as the screen door winced shut, but she had a feeling 
that she would be the only one ever to hear. She looked down at he 
fingers, veined red and peeling away, as she sunk past the dangling I 
moon and onto the floor. There was nothing for her to miss. 



Mary Ziegler 



46 



Pennsylvania New Year 



Hoarfrost shimmering like broken champagne bottles 
! in the dark restless night 
pulls us forward like stars 
capturing their gravity bound victims. 
Heavy footsteps can crush a sleeping ground, 
fledglings race across silver meadows. 

Distance ourselves from the rattlesnake's bite 
A pagan dance in each other's shadows 
with the wind whispering softly in my ear. 



Jasmine Mitchell 



47 



An Incident on Times Square 



He was sitting up on this mountain of rubble in the middl 
of an urban sprawl out on Times Square at 1 1:50 P.M. on Decern 
ber 31st , 1999. Cars were beeping their horns , old ladies wer 
fainting , grown men were weeping on their knees , and pimps wer 
offering him discounts on 14-year olds saying , "Hey man , yo)i 
wanna make another Jesus!" 

Well anyway , I somehow managed to penetrate all thos 
Goddamn people and reach that mountain of rubble. I could 1 
climbed the motherfucker but I really didn't want to get all dirty y 
know. It wouldn't be very presentable. I mean , I am goin' to se 
God. 

I walked up to the mountain ; this big oF hill of debris an 
trash bags. It was like all the dirt and filth and trash in the origin; 
gothic land of neon and concrete that we refer to as New York Cit 
had been gathered by some divine garbage man and accumalated t 
form a throne upon which shall sit the one Creator. I don't knov 
how I managed to get that close to the mountain , you see, becaus 
everybody else was kept back from it by the Big Guy's heavenl 
Secret Service. They were just kinda walking back and forth , p;j 
trolling ya know , telling everybody to just stay back. They didr 
have any weapons or nothing , but you could tell they didn't nee 
any. When one of them walked by , you could feel and almost he; 
this sort of crackle , kinda like when you feel the static electricii 
coming from a TV. after it's been turned orT. 

One of them starting walking toward me. I held my groun 
, but all the while , I felt like I was being pushed back as he can 
closer , like he was wearing some magnetic outfit that had an opp< 
site po...po...pola... polarity to an out fit that I was wearing. Get rrj 
meaning? It was interesting , too , because as he came closer , I ft 
warmer , like whatever magnetic outfit he was wearing he had ju! 
put on me and it was shielding me from the cold , harsh , sing 
digit winter temperature , like a sanctified Columbia windbreak* 

The agent said , "You must be the chosen one." , and I sa 
,"Cool" , and he shuddered and his big black wings trembled , ar 



48 



he took off his dark shades and placed them in the breast pocket of 
i his black Armani jacket , and said , "Man , I can't stand the weather 
here. I mean , the boss says he gots to come down here , and I'm 
like , Chief - why? - what's so special about Earth , there's a billion 
other planets you can go to. But the Big Daddy's all - no , we gots 
to go to Earth. Now I'm just a bit peeved , cuz this is the nicest 
time of the light year in Eden. Then on top of that , I hear we going 
to New York. I'm like , shit , of all the places to go , can't we at least 
land in South America or Puerto Rico or Senegal or something , I 
mean , the weather's nice and warm in them places! The fuck we got 
to go to New York for?!" 

I said /'That's rough man." 
Then he said , "Don't ever call me that again." 
So I said , "Oh sorry , didn't mean to offend you." , and 
that's when I knew that with an attitude like that , this had to be the 
legendary Agent Gabriel himself." 

So , I asked Mr. Gabriel if he could maybe give me a lift to 
the top of that mountain so I won't have to get all dirty. He smiled 
and spread his wings , and when he smiled you heard the crackling 
of thunder and the tremors of the Earth , I'm telling you. 

So anyway , Gabriel says ,"I'll take you up there if you can 
orrectly answer these three riddles." 

I said , "What if I get cm wrong?" 

He said , " Then I hope hanging on to them skanky-ass 
Doles on the subway trains back and forth from work gave you a 
*ood strong grip , cuz it's a long climb." 

I said , "Alrighty then , hit me" , and Gabriel took his huge 
:>alm and struck me on the top of my head. 

Wincing in pain , I said , "Damn , I didn't mean it that 
vay!". Then Gabriel said , "I know , but that litde smack'll help 
'ou think better. I mean , it didvrotV for the Last Prophet , peace 
>e upon him , when I told his illiterate lazy ass to read. Then look 
vhat happened , he became the greatest man to walk this Earth. 
Vnd all he needed was a little bop upside his head!" 
I said , "Okay well..." 

He said , "Riddle number one... what is life?" 
"Life is God." 



j 



49 



"Good ... what is time?" 
1 ime is Cjod. 

"Correctifuckinmundo. What is death?" 

"Death is what happens when you're good and ready to mee 1 
God ....or the other guy." 

Well , Gabriel laughed at that one , and his laugh shook th j 
Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty a little loose fron| 
their foundations , and parted the Red Sea for the second time, 
said , "Stop laughing Mr. Gabriel , I gots family in Los Angeles I 
and they must be having a fit by now!" Well Gabriel got the pui 
not intended and laughed even harder at that one and said , "Yoi 
cool brother , I'll take you up there to meet the chief." 

So he grabbed hold of me under my arms and spread hi 
wings and flew me up to the top of that mountain. 

Gabriel said , "Hey Chief, I got someone for ya.", and Go< 
turned around , and his eyes were stars , his hair was clouds , and hi 
chin and cheekbones were mountains. 

Well , my hair turned white when I saw him , and I sud 
denly felt 50 years older , just like that dude who had the balls to sa : 
, "Pharoah , you best let ma damn people go , or God is gonna reco£ : 
nize yo ass as a nigga who got to be got for not lettin us go to tl. 
mothafuckin promised land. You think I'm foolin?! Then check this 
one minute its a rod , next its a snake. How ya like me now?!'\ and 
really didn't know what to say , so I said , "What is the meaning c 
life?" 

Well , I nearly kicked myself for that one. I mean , Ii 
meeting God and all I can say is some Goddamn cliche. 

Well , God looks at me and says , "What?" , because 1: 
didn't quite hear me right since that big lightning-like ball starte 
descending from it's sublimeTimes Square tower like a spheric 
monarch overlooking his neon shadowed kingdom and deciding t 
grace his subjects with his presence. Of course , all the millions < 
freezing fools out there began counting backwards as the spheii 
king continued his descent and on the way down bowed to Go 
who is Time who appointed him ruler of the Timeless tradition of 
New York New Year. 
"10" 



50 



I repeated my sorry self, "What is the meaning of life?" 

God opened his mouth and I saw all the solar systems in 
between his teeth. "8" 

He bellowed , "That's the stupidest question I ever heard!" 

Well , my knees are shaking by now. I mean , I didn't mean 
to piss the big guy off. 
"6" 

But then God puts his hand on my shoulder , and even 
though I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders as he did that 

, his touch was as gentle as my mother's. 

«^» 

God said , "What do you think the meaning of life is?" 
"4" 

"What do you think is it's purpose?" 
"3" 

"Why do you think I gave you such a thing?" 
"2" 

I stammered and said , "Uh...uh...to live?" 

cc 2 " 

Well , I nearly kicked myself again for that one... 
"Should old aquaintance be forgot , and never brought to 
nind..." 

...but then God grinned and his eyes shone and he said , 
Exactly". 



Yaqub Prowell 



51 



"Jake Edwards said 
we could use his garage. .J* 



Jake Edwards said we could use his garage. His parents botl 
work, so nobody would be around after school. And his dad's go 
this hot-rod, 1950s style. Big engine, big wheels that stick out when 
there aren't any fenders. These big flames painted on. They go up al 
over the side of the car, these things. Eddy liked the flames. He sau 
they were appropriate. Nobody said anything about that, but I thin] 
we all agreed. Those flames just felt right. Like this whole thing ha 
just felt right. I want to make that clear, because I think mayb< 
some people are going to misunderstand. I think maybe some peopl 
are going to say it was evil, or some kind of tragedy, but I want ti 
say that this has been nothing but right from the beginning. We'v 
all known that. 

It's Alex who can talk about right and wrong. He's the phi 
losopher, the one who sees things. The rest of us, Jake and Edd l 
King and me, we're not like him. I mean, we're just normal guy: I 
We just wake up and go to school everyday. On the weekends vv! 
like to have a good time. We never thought about it too much 
Every now and then one of us would go on a bummer, and the re. 
of us would have to cheer him up. But it wasn't a big deal. None ( 
us were depressed like the people they talk about in health class, 
guess things were pretty normal until Alex moved here. 

Alex showed us a lot of things. I don't want to say too mud 
because I think maybe I won't say it right. That's one of the thin] 
he talked about. This fear, of saying or doing something wrong. E 
said that was one of the great problems. He said that it's consumir 
us all. He showed us how everyone in America has got this fear, 
doing the wrong thing, or saying the wrong thing. Like everythii 
in this country is just a house of cards, and we all have to tiptcj 
cause it could all come down at any moment. When he said that \ 
knew he was on to something, because we had all felt that befoi! 
Nobody was sure just when or how, be we knew we had all had thl 
sensation. I didn't say anything, but when Alex was talking I if 

"52" 



membered the times when I lie in bed at night, and the house is 
almost quiet, except for my parents downstairs, arguing about the 
taxes or the car or whether they should send me away to a school 
where my grades will be better. Those times I lie in bed and I stay 
' very still, because I can feel the whole weight of the house, and I 
know that if I move, if I breathe at the wrong time, it could fall 
down and bury us all. 

Alex told us how he had decided that the world was flawed. 
He said he could feel it in everything. He said there was something 
wrong about the world we lived in. Didn't we feel sometimes like all 
i the pieces didn't fit? Yeah, we felt that way. Didn't we feel like there 
was no order, like there was a great emptiness in everything? We 
nodded our heads. We might not all have been sure of what he was 
saying, not then. But the time would come when we would all see. 

This is all in early October. By then, Alex had been around 
for a few months and had started hanging around with Jake Edwards 
and Eddy King and me. The three of us go way back, back to when 
we were in elementary and would spend every Thursday night to- 
gether because our parents all played in the same poker game and it 
was cheaper to get just one sitter. The game dissolved eventually, 
ind we got too old to need sitters anyhow, but we still hung around 
:ogether most of the time. We don't talk about it, about our friend- 
: ; i;hip I mean, but those Thursday nights spent in one of our empty 
- louses, when together we would try to convince the sitter to let us 
tay up for another re-run of The Dukes of Hazard, formed some- 
hing bigger than any one of us. 

Alex came at the beginning of the summer after our junior 
r ear in high school. The first time I met him I was sitting out in 
ront of my house, it being my turn to watch over our annual sum- 
ner yard sale. The day was cooler than expected, and cloudy, and 
Lobody was stopping for the 50<t lemonade we had set out. That's 
he best way to get people to come to a yard sale. Pick a hot day and 
riake up some lemonade, and you can't sell it fast enough. They 
ome for the lemonade and stay to buy some piece of junk you're 
rying to get rid of, works every time. But not that day. I was about 
-ady to cover up the stuff and head in when I see this kid walking 
p. He was kind of tall, thin, with a slow lanky walk. I remember 



53 



the slowness of his walk because of the way it went against his eyes. 
Alex's got these eyes that never stop moving. He takes it all in. He j 
came up and looked around some, then he looked over at me. l| 
could see he was shy, the way he would look up at me and then of 
somewhere else, so I gave a little nod, to be friendly. He came overii 
"You got anything here I need?", he asked. 

"Dunno," I said, "We've only got what's here. Stuff wen 
trying to get rid of." 

"Mm," he nodded. "Well, you can't ever buy anything yoij 
really need." 

This was the first conversation I ever had with Alex. At th«;l 
time I thought little of it, just that he was an odd guy. Looking bacl I 
I can see that it was more than that. It was fate, I think. There 1 I 
destiny in everything, only you can't see until later. Time is funn I 
that way. 

I could see that Alex was shy and self-contained, but ther 
was something going on in that head of his. I liked him. I intra 
duced him to the other guys, and they seemed to like him too, or a 
least they didn't mind his being around. He came on a couple c 
fishing trips, and to the movies, and he seemed to fit in well wit 
the three of us. We got to know him well in those summer month, 
and when school came around he was around more and more. 

It's funny about Alex. I think there's something compelling 
about being around him. I think it's maybe because he has this v j 
sion. You see it in his eyes, the way he looks at things and the way r ! 
talks. He was talking more and more about the things he saw, ; 
least when he was around us. Around other people he's a quiet gu 
but around us he was opening up, talking all the time. By the end » j I 
October and into November he was talking a lot about the leave j jj 
Right then the leaves are real orange and red, sometimes yellow, 
these bright colors everywhere. Alex kept talking about how it wilfi 
beautiful, one of the few really beautiful things, because these leave lit 
in life, they're never really beautiful, just green, plain. But whdt? 
they die, they become bright, full of color. Each finds its own pejii' 
fection, is what Alex said. After, they fall back into dirt, or reality 
this brown mush, and they fade away. But Alex said that just thjlt: 
one moment of perfection, that brief period before death, justifi |lb 



54 



! the leaf's life. It made it whole. Eddy said he thought it was sad, but 
i Alex said no, because the leaf became everything it could be, and so 
it was okay for it to die. Jake said, wasn't it like when a soldier takes 
; a bullet in a battle and he's saving his best friend and so it's okay? 
(Alex said yes, it's the same, both deaths give meaning to the life. 

I think by this point Jake was beginning to really under- 
stand what Alex was about. Eddy and me weren't far behind, really. 
Some notions were forming in my mind and I think in Eddy's too. 
You could see it in his eyes. They were almost empty but there was 
;a fire growing in there. All of us were like that. We would walk 
around and see through things, like the world had stopped being 
.real for us. Other times it would be like everything was too real. 
There was a brilliance in the air and the edges of things were so 
isharp it brought tears to my eyes. We could see every atom, feel 
each moment. That was just the vision, getting closer and filling 
everything. 

Of course, this was later on. At first it was more subtle, little 
things Alex would say. One day we found a dead sparrow and he 
jzalked about it for most of the afternoon. Caterpillars fascinated 
lim, and he we go on at length about their metamorphosis. They 
::. i;pend their lives as little worms, nothing to look at, but then they 
become butterflies. It's the change, like with the leaves, that makes 
jt okay for them to spend so much time being ugly. It's their justifi- 
; cation. Alex always became excited about justification. Often he 
vould be detached, but when something drew his attention, when 
hose eyes lit on something, it was everything. He had a passion 
hat could show itself in an instant. 

One day he showed us this trick somebody had told him 
bout. I guess this was near the end of September. You squat down 
jnd breathe hard and fast, and then you stand up all at once and 
- ij jomebody has to push you hard in the stomach. If you do it right 
fou lose consciousness for a second. You blackout, it's like you just 
lips away for a second. When you come out everything reels. Alex 
„ j tot us all doing it. We got to like it, to like the sensation of disap- 
. fearing. Like sliding into water, submerging, but without fear. There's 
; | kind of perfect tranquillity in that. Alex called it the "point of 
; please", when the world and its flaws slip off. Of course in the trick 



55 



the world always comes back, more or less how you remembered it. 
You come gasping into the light. Back then, we were all still glad of 
that light. We wanted that light, I think as proof that things were 
still real. We wanted to know that we still existed. 

Alex was slowly building his vision around us. Maybe it waj 
building itself around him too, or maybe it came from inside. Wher 
ever it was from, it was becoming real for us, more real every day. A. 
winter came on and Alex's leaves dropped away and disappeared 
beneath the snow he began to speak more and more openly. Phrase ' 
began to repeat themselves, things like "flawed existence" or thl 
"point of release" that leads to the "transcendent moment of perfec I 
tion". That was the key, the final moment. It was the "redeemin 1 
factor" which would justify existence. The final escape contains th 
final perfection, the final redemption. 

I can repeat these things that Alex said, but I know ths 
they cannot explain the vision which Alex showed us. It runs deepe 
than words. Alex spent months opening our eyes bit by bit, becaus 
had he shown us all at once we couldn't have understood. Our fe; 
would have stopped us. This fear that we all have, the fears Ale 
talked about, they make the vision that we have had seem like a 
evil thing. I know that whoever reads this will have those fears, an 
I want to say that if you can let go of them you can see what 
beautiful thing the vision really is. Give yourself over to it, and yc 
will see that it is only good and right. Once we were committed, v 
all understood that. 

It's winter now, and the world is closing up around us. ^ 
are all ready. It has been easier than I thought it would be. Som 
times the old fears bubble up, but I know them for what they a 
now and I can let them pass. The others are at the same level 
acceptance. We are unified in our readiness for what we will do. 

Deciding how was easy. It was Eddy King who found t : 
news story about those other kids who had done it. They sealjl 
themselves in a garage and ran their car engine until the gases bu t 
up enough. It put them to sleep first, then it quietly killed the,!. 
When Alex saw that he knew he was right, had been right all aloil. 
It was perfect. We understood that in another town another set If 
kids had had the same vision as we had. Everything clicked, y 



56 



Jake said we should use his garage. That roadster is perfect. 
It's fate, the same fate that has guided us all through this thing. 
Soon now we will go out to that fate, seated in the chariot that fate 
has provided. Everyone agreed that Alex should be the one to sit in 
the driver's seat. Jake, who has always understood best, will sit next 
to him, and Eddy and I will sit in the back. 

I've shown this story to the other guys. They all like it. We 
want to leave something for the world, something to try and ex- 
plain. We want to dispel some of the horror we know people are 
, going to feel. That horror is unavoidable. It's a creation of the fears 
I everyone has, of the conditions of Alex's "flawed existence". But 
i there should be no horror. There should be no fear, for we all un- 
derstand what it is we do. We have all seen the vision, and the vision 
is justification in itself. Do not mourn us. We have passed into our 
own perfection. I hope the world understands the beauty which we 
I have found and into which we enter. For us it is the only under- 
i standing there can ever be again. My final hope is that our vision 
, will not die with us, but will reach out to touch another life. A part 
of me knows that it will. 



Max Young 



57 



Harvest Cycle 



Everytime I wake up, he hangs himself again. Though he 
was dead long before I slept in his room or between his sheets, the 
horse thief follows me everywhere I wake, his body sagging, with 
every hanging, deeper and deeper between mountains. Hal roll* i 
over and back under the pillow, pulling me fifteen years back intc 
the now. 

The home-call came to me in Margaret's name. The wo mar I 
said, her voice squat, duckish, that Margaret was getting marriec j| 
and my mother was dying. You haven't been back in fifteen yean 
high time you came. 

Halfway into the morning, I slam a suitcase on the bed an< 
tell him I am going home. He nods. Outside traffic rushes lik 
wind across water at riptide, streets swirling with screeching tir 
sounds, hard on your ears like sparrowhawk squawk. 

The city, spit-shined smooth, sparks easy against the surr 
mers back home. City buildings shrunk wide-ways and stretche 
tall-ways, stack together so slim that light can barely fall throug 
them, or sound. Meanwhile, Wayside Green rolls and runs, a turn 
bier turning cartwheels - making a mountain a minute or a field 
stretch of corn-leaved sea. 

I was born between mountains, coming out of my mothe j 
womb between dreams, before the snow and after the turning 
the leaves. Weaved of a mountain stream and thatched from tl 
smoke in the mountain breeze - my hands, the now, the words 
dissolve. I ride the railroad, returning to the dust. The farth 
south I come, the farther mountainward, my hair, bleached by su 
grows into river weeds and wheat, caught up in cattails. 

Craven Goodspeed meets me at the station. He is still tl 
color of wet sand. Throwing my bag over his shoulder, he Sib 
nothing. After old man Reamy hung himself, some twenty ye s 
backwards from the now, Craven took his shanty down by the she , 
nobody saying anything about stealing a haunt's house. CraApl 
didn't say anything for years, after that, living off of smallmouthje I 

~58~ 



could spear upstream and buckets of lard stored in the old man's 
basement. 

Craven dumps my bag in the dust at Margaret's house; she 
walks outside, feet keeping mountain time. She puts her hand on 
my shoulder and says, hey, and some long sentences about years and 
seeing me. She smiles her sisterly smile, underneath it all that talk 
you save for later, when Craven for gods sake goes home. Then she 
touches him on the shoulder and says, Craven and I are getting mar- 
ried in August; we hope you 11 stay for the wedding You could smell 
the sand in her breath, hear the white winds in her voice. 

Riverwater for blood and wheat for hair, I exhale smoke, 
speak black exhaust. The river rushes in my voice. I dream of 
things the river's seen: men from the mines, dawn shift, a soot darker 
than cinder. The river raised a dead eye to Somerset Nead taking 
Ricky Rowe's woman down by the wharf. 

After the cement from the city began to wade into my speech 
vith the leveled flatness of mapped-out roads, I began to forget the 
veight of the wind on riverside grasses. The river eclipsed by the 
zurrent, I no longer dreamed in brown. 

Woolen light of morning come, a sky of purple grain: I wake 
nto the outside. Margaret, sitting on the rocker in the corner of 
he bedroom, tells me without turning that she hoped all that 
:ity-living had taught a no-good whore like myself some lessons. I 
ay if I'm a no-good whore, what does that make her and at least I 
vouldn't marry a dumb-for-no-reason dusty- faced... She says was 
tTheo. 

All our hair is wheat; all the clouds here, cotton. Bread 
>efore supper, supper before bed, bed before rest, rest before day- 
ight, and daylight before the breaking of the bread. 

In my mother's house, I sit beside her while she sleeps. She 
vakes; her eyes flame, a splitting ignition, and then darken, as if 
huttered behind black glasses. I gave you to know that if you ever ... 
10 mt here you are. Ruth. 

I swallow my breath. My spine thickens; I know each bone 

1 



59 



by shape. 

For His sake I forgive you now, Ruth. For His sake... I am 
going to my Redeemer. Going to my Light. For me, there is redepmtion. 

I want to say that her words bound me, that I left her bed- 
side white. 

Margaret, two days later on the back porch with me, smok- 
ing up my slim cigarettes I bought special (but this unknown to 
her), says remember when they took Mom to jail. Remember when wi 
were living all alone with Number-Two, the Rodeo Roadkill King 
Here's to us, I say, years ago, with Junior Johnson, the Rodeo Roadkil I 
King of Mustang, Montana. I extinguish the cigarette on the up 
side of my thigh. 

Junior Johnson was boomerang-bent in two and bald whei i 
he married mom, she half his age and twice his size in the then, an< 
we moved into his house, a ranch welded flat to the back mudsid 
of Duck Hollow. We, Margaret and me, suspected the slap-das 
marriage had something to do with his son Theo. Theo, weane 
from bark, slid at birth into a bucket, flowing down a tin tube wit 
the syrup from the trunk. Theo flatboatman, storekeeper, posijf 
master, surveyor, and weekend cabinetmaker. Theo, with one hani 
signing scam deals with the mine-owning men, the other chuckirl 5 
potatoes up exhaust pipes of Somerset Nead's four Fords. The< I 
motherfucker, made us take the room, more window than wa.1' 1 
where his grandfather the horse thief had hanged himself. 

The Mountain Wilderness of Wyoming is whe J 
Number-Two, the old kicker, wanted to go when he died, goii'r 
down humping, with a lasso in his mouth. Margaret and I tried i : 
spit on him from our window when he crawled, coughing bloc 1 
into the barn where it was cool. After that, with Mom in jail, tj| ;; 
old kicker stayed downstairs in the house. He wouldn't even coi T 
up to use the bathroom, peeing in tea cups or in the pantry sink I 

I 1 

River comes out in my hair and reflects from my eyes all 
spreads across my skin in the sun. I went to give blood; they drH 



60 



>rown river water, rife with minnows and three-eyed catfish. Gur- 
;ling, rushing against the houses for so many years, it wore its way 
n, through floorboards and beneath my skin, further into the deepest 
:hambers of the flesh. 

For all her stories, Mom was a poor shot, turned to horseshit 
vith a double in her hands, couldn't even pull the treble out of 
;aught trout. When not jailbound or bedridden with a birth or 
ibortion, she worked as a waitress, remarkable in three counties for 
ler old hands, hands like those of an old woman, even when she 
vas young. Tender-handed with us when she was watched, old hands 
unning through young wheat, her hands dissolved when watching 
;yes rolled away. They never turned back-slap hard, just drifted, 
Irifted. Margaret heard fromTheo that those old hands were in jail 
or at least a year. Margaret said good, now we dont have to take no 
\nore baths. 

Our only other neighbor in Duck Hollow wondered about 
,ur nutrition, how was we doing with our mom gone. Margaret's 
|yes got big and her bottom lip slipped down like she was just about 
p tell about Junior Johnson's raw fish left in the sink with the scales 
n, the kitchen sink, which we hoped he didn't shit in. I kicked her 
ard under the table and said yeah, nutritions good. Our brother 
"heo takes good care of us. I told Margaret later, That's what she 
oped to hear. She hoped to hear ofTheo. We called her One-Eyed 
j^illy from then on, knowing from Junior that her name was 
C^ilma- Willy, Wilma- Willy Monahan, unmarried and no longer 
nwilling to jeopardize her immortal soul: yellow-lace panties los- 
lg their elastic up top. 

Fish, buried and half-buried, struck down daily conversa- 
on and floated through the hallways: flat-faced Angel fish, the 
urnt-blue beta fish and the Monogahela special: three-eyed cat- 
sh. They breathed from our breaths and ate from our words, hid 
.I corners and tormented Theo's cats. Margaret wanted to know in 
;ine, can fish fly*. 

Theo came home one night with a girl so round-faced with 
niles you knew she must be from out of town. She drove a red slip 
a car, shining, with slit-eyed windows. Margaret was sitting up 
ith her Manual of Catholic Prayer alternately quoting Sirach and 



61 



praying for me... Let not the lustful cravings of the flesh master you. 
Surrender not to shameless desires. Crawling on my belly to her bed, 
holding her ear to my lips, I continued the next chapter, There are 
words which merit death. May they never be heard among Jacobs heirs. 
I started whispering wisdom- phrases writ-scrawled on bathroom 
stalls, inserting Margaret and Junior Johnson and horses until I felt 
tears through her flattened lashes, until they wet the bottom of my 
palm pressing her head to the bedboard. 

I slipped down the attic stairs. I balked at his bedroorr 
door, listening for the colored speech flashing across the keyhole. 

Nothing. 

The dead fish frothed at the lips, saying in the house of man 
in the house of man. I followed the origin of their sounds: his word 
rough-edged and homespun, bred on buttermilk, then he 
honeysong: the shovel-nosed woman must have had a magpie in 
her chest. From the bathroom, a leap-to, up-running scream shat 
tered: smoke on the water. I banged to the floorboards, through th 
open door seeing her head growing out of Theo's back below hi 
ear. 

When they came out, I was waiting, eyes like tobacco learnt 
Theo hit the heel of his palm to his forehead. I said Im sick. In h 
bedroom he handed me a bottle and sent me upstairs. The first si 
was as clean and clear as the brassy, burnt-through first taste of vin 
egar. 

I drank til brown water came out my eyes, my hair and m 
ears. Margaret peeled the bottle from me and poured it in the t< 
let. The next afternoon, I looked at my butchered new hair, Maq 
ret explaining I cut it over the toilet to fill the water with weeds ai 1 
the feathers of the canvasback and mallard, all kinds of wildfix 
and waterfowl, the gadwall and the blond tails of salmon. She sa ■:!> 
I was sending rain back to the prairies. 



One month later, One-eyed Willy moved us in with h 
One-Eyed Willy was born between cosmos like Molly the mad mi ! 
who ran herself into the river. She bopped Margaret for bringi 



Ler a bouquet of flowers on account of them being "cut from the 
md of the living". She kept telling us to make miracles of our- 
elves. 

If you asked her garden jibberish, she was sharp as the tin 
dge of a can-opened lid. She sprouted garden-speak, winking with 
ler marine-green caked-over eye, flaring her long nose and lifting 
Ler tamoshanter. The Christmas after we moved back in with Mom 
nd Junior Johnson, she sent us two African Violet leaves with their 
terns dipped in rooting powder. Margaret's grew; mine bent back 
nto the soil by spring. When Mom married Number-Three, 
)ne-Eyed Willy sent a broken-off twig from a pussy willow tree, 
elling Margaret to put it in the ground when it snowed. It grew 
upernatural quick like comic-strip kids, fuzzball-fur blossoms driz- 
ling droplets until you could pet its top outside the second-floor 
/indow. 

On account of being born between cosmos, One-Eyed Willy 
iad a good memory for town-tales and told them - quick and easy: 
he'd fortell your own death if she knew it, or had heard about it, or 
ven if she'd heard about someone else's dying and thought it was 
ou even if it wasn't anyway. Either way, you'd be on your knees by 
undown, or picking out tombstones in the afternoon. Quick and 
lasy, 1,2,3. 

She told us about Somerset Nead taking Ricky Rowe's 
'oman down by the wharf. 

When Ricky Rowe found out, Ricky Rowe said he couldnt have 
een more surprised if someone told him he was pregnant. He kicked 
is woman s front up like the belted-out burp of a hic-cup, forgetting 
bat rust-repair and fiber glass-sheet-metal- fillings dont fix flesh like a 
tuck. When she took sick and miscarried their baby, he bought a 
de-by-side double with the too-quick triggers slipping back and went 
\i the river to do himself some penance. Taking that twelve-gaged splin- 
ted fore-end, with the twenty-nine-inch barrel of straight stock, 
lilor-trimmedfor a fish-kicking pintail, he put it on his chin and shot, 
ipping back on accident so the bullet flung up and hit a duck, red 
reast flaming in straight-stroked fins of blood. After that, scared to the 
nvers, he sold it to Honey-Boy Rockwell, it being six pounds light and 
wd for an up-choke, back-choke drake-downing. Ricky took his woman 



63 



and skipped town, leaving Somerset Nead a misspelled death threat. 



Now if One-Eyed Willy hadn't had cosmo dust in her good 
eye and a blindness in the other, she would've left it at that, Marga- 
ret crying over her Manual of Catholic Prayer and me, chest- chilled 
to kick Margaret's front up. Next thing you know One-Eyed Willy 
was saying how Ricky Rowe's woman come back, fresh as water- 
melon left deep in a spring house well, and shacked up with 
Honey-Boy Rockwell. She said Ricky Rowe's woman tricked 
Honey-Boy Rockwell so she could make a decent woman of herself 
Late, he arrived at the church at half-past-two and wed her with s 
ring carved out of a peach pit. Wilma- Willy says she remember; 
the wedding real well: Ricky Rowe's woman smiling like she wa: 
growing into what she always wanted to be, birds blooming acros. 
the sky, Wilma- Willy straining and shining with song, psalm word 
tumbling out from her toenail to her tummy to her tongue to th< 
altar. 



Next thing you know Ricky Rowe turns up dead, floatin 
face- down in the wetlands, the three-inch high water on t 
river- front lowlands. Next morning, the sheriff took Ricky Rowi 
woman and Somerset Nead to the jailhouse until they, y ou k n o 
- confessed! No one did, and people thought it was a suicide, unt 
Doc Holler said how could he shoot himself twice through the hear 
Two months later, when Ricky Rowe's woman came home t 
Honey-Boy from the calaboose, they found themselves flingir 
firesticks at each other, with a dried up lust too heavy to let sit. 

SO 

Honey-Boy took a travelling job, riding around the mountain 
selling shine out of the back of his truck. 



Christmas carolers came up the porch. Margaret shot i 
out of her chair, eyes red- rimmed and jigging with tears, and dimm 
all the lights. Why you dimmin the damn lights, Margaret, I sai 
She was always dimmin the damn lights and turnin down the dan 
radio. Margaret couldn't ever stay in a room of bright lights 
loudmouthed music, she being born in a dream, dream-silent, 



64 



deep into the night there was no moon. One-Eyed Willy crept to 
the cupboard for cookies and to her purse for pennies. She hollered 
to the carolers to come on in. They came on in. You sing good, she 
said, but I'm clean out of cookies and money. So you go out back and 
carry off - W H A Tever. They wandered out to the back porch 
which they found full of skipping ropes, refrigerators, wires and 
tires, doorless dishwashers, and televisions which flickered and sput- 
tered at will. They carried off One-Eyed Willys kept- fro m-childhood 
(collection of one-eyed, chipped-lipped china dolls. 

Come November in a rickety, valley-set shed, Ricky Rowe's 
woman bore her first-born, a daughter. 

She decided to name the baby Ruth. 

Margaret burst into tears. Ruth! Ruth! Get it, Ruth? Ruth, 
she screamed earsplitting to me, who do you think was husband Num- 
ber One? 

I pressed the heel of my palm into my forehead, 
Viargaret-sounds and Wilma-words winding up my spine and scat- 
ering. 

One-Eyed Willy, wickerwork-stiff, stammered story bits 
hrough her black teeth. Spending all the money she never had on 
hat baby, One-Eyed Willy said. Margaret said the story did for the 
econd, would anyone like some canned spinach? 

One-Eyed Willy up and told us to git after the spinach, so 
vlargaret and I split, legs quick-ripping to the woodlands. 

The further south from the house we went, the more we 
onjured. We'd begin with lists of what One-Eyed Willy is. Marga- 
et said Wilma- Willy Monahan has a mouth bigger than a large- 
nouth bass. Wilma-Willy is a one-eyed, fly way duck gut. I said, 
Vilma-Willy Monahan is a gun chambered for bullets no longer manu- 
factured. By the time we busted out of the yard, leaving all the 
rip-ropes and tulips and turnips behind, we'd flung our 
Vilma-Willy- words dustward. 

Years closer to the now, sometime after number-four and 
ight before I left Wayside Green, sixteen and beginning to show, 
Margaret said she wondered if all them Wilma-Willy stories had 
Dmething to do with how I turned out, if words spoken came true 
)r the speaking. She said maybe it was like how ghost stories make 



65 



themselves true, ghosts growing from gust-blown window shears.^ 
Outside of Duck Hollow and tucked back into Wayside's 
back lands, Margaret always made me visit all the people she was 
praying for. First she had us visit Jameson, the one named after the 
whiskey, the one that wouldn't grow. 

Jameson's cabin stuck out of the side of a mountain. As 
soon as he saw us he smiled, him nice enough to smile at strangers 
us being strangers every single day we came. It was hard to tel 
where dirt ended and he began, his eyes sweeping clean fron 
Margaret's forehead to her nose and back, brown eyes flat anc 
downturned, like the flap of a burlap sack. First thing on Margaret' 
Prayer Run was to say May God be with you. His cabin was alway 
a fog, the rooms, cotton-edged. Crates lost their crisp corners, wall 
forgot their darkest lines. Margaret's blown-out bones in her cheek 
softened, the concrete sides steamed away. We'd pet the cat tha 
dragged in bluebirds and field mice, making his house a box of dea 
animals. We'd squish the crickets that had blue blood and a stin 
when they died. Afterwards, usually in the middle of super-gre: 
cricket squashing, Margaret would spill out her spells. May tk 
peace of the Lord be with this house, she's say, bending down to touc j 
his head. 

Project Number Two on Margaret's Prayer Route was a vis 
with Hickman Tuesday in the Blue Caboose, a shack near the rac 
track side-stables which he owned. Hickman Tuesday, who lat 
founded a riverboat gambling ring with Theo, sort of tolerat. 
Margaret while she talked with his wife. I'd glean gambling trie 
when he schooled me at Gin Rummy and Poker. Troubled h< 
tease, / is shit troubled in this game, me knowing he was ready ! 
swoop in with a win. Margaret's chin flew up: Troubled? Try Pray A 
And Mrs. Tuesday would look over her shoulder at Hickman witl 

down-turned smile. 

My spin on Hickman's wins was this: he won because fo js 
figured he was going to win and fixated on his fiinny face, this v| 
making it easy for him to cheat them stupid while they looked I 
hopeless-like at his big ears, nose and hands. Biggest of all was s 
eyes, like bright-backed beetles, walnut-sized, out-tripping eyfc 
un-whorled from his lids like the petals wide-peeled off a dyfe 



66 



rose. Eyes so big they made you wonder if he could see the farther 
for them. Even his tongue seemed too big for his mouth. Mrs. 
Tuesday, oppositely, was a sprig of sparrow feet. She always wore 
j black and purple eyeshadow; when her eyes closed, they looked like 
!two moons of dusk. Margaret usually stayed until Hickman beat 
jme three times at Gin Rummy or two times at Gin Rummy and 
;once at Poker, or three times at Poker or two times at Poker and 
once at Gin Rummy. Then he stepped out of his chair and shooed 
us away, him saying that betting-barns were no place for small girls, 
him saying Yaall will build better bouses. 

The last stop on the soul-raising railroad was a spin on 
Tommy Scott's tractor. Tommy, whose mother sat with Margaret at 
'Mass, called us the whiptide finish on his midnight rides across his 
jfields, him mowing and us mooing at the cows across the pasture. 
(Margaret, stormy-eyed, sang church hymns, stood up on the seat, 
with one hand on Tommy's shoulder and the other on mine. Tommy 
promised he'd say some prayers, just as soon as he hailed his 
iialf-a-moon harvest, but him not really meaning to, unless praying 
neant humming hymns on the toilet. 

Come dinner, back at Wilma- Willy's, Margaret took meat 
>ut of the cupboard above the earthenware plates where Willy left it 
o thaw. At nights I'd sleep upside-down and she'd sleep right- 
ide-up, half-asleep, arranged split-style for fit like sardines. Marga- 
ret says I had to sleep upside down because I was born between 
nountians, used to a squeeze, a bit east of Moon County, east if you 
ollowing a river twisting westward, then stuttering eastward across 
he flip-side of sky. 

Long after we forgot the figuring of the days, tucked into 
v'ilma- Willy's hothouse of things which grew, we heard a knock at 
le door. Maybe its Theo, Margaret said, me thinking with our luck 
: was probably Junior Johnson coming at us with peed-in tea cups. 

Mom kicked open the door,not waiting for Wilma- Willy to 
'alk to lift the latch. Good God, Wilma- Willy said. Come on, Mom 
lid, right through her, grabbing us. You watch them kids! 
^ilma- Willy said. You grab them like you was grabbing a cat or a dog 
r a chicken. Like you were thinking, Oh well, here's a cat or a dog or 



67 



a pig or a chicken. Anybody want it? Twisting my head through 
Mom's arm, I stuck my tongue out: Cluck, Cluck, Cluck... 

At three o'clock in the morning, pots slamming and doors 
banging woke us. Every day at three o'clock in the morning from 
then on we'd hear running, screaming, like someone'd let bulls into 
the liquor cabinets. 

The wedding was set for the day after the Nebraska Red-Leaf 
festival, but Somerset Nead and Jimmy Rowe, the younger, advised 
her to wait for winter. Bullets live free on full moons. 

Mom had only waited until a month after Junior died tc 
start spending time with soon-to-be Number Three. 

Winter time, butter stayed hard in the dish. Margaret anc 
I skipped the wedding. 

Summertime, Mom and Number Three asked us did w< 
want to go up West Virginia with them. We said no; Mom said nc 
problem. They left before the May wet became the June sweat 
butter turned buttermilk in the dish. 

June sweat sent us, all but buck-naked, wading down Mudd; 
Creek to catch minnows with paper cups. Margaret liked to pe 
them then let them go. I liked to leave them out on mid-creek rock 
where lizards who crawled belly-up to sun themselves would ea 
them, if the minnows didn't get sucked into the sun first. Mudc 
Creek ran into a bigger creek called Ten Mile Creek, which was a \ 
far as Margaret followed it. That summer I resigned from my po; 
on the Prayer Railroad. 

I came back to the Monongahela for the foot-long sak 
manders which slithered along my feet and up my legs. I carr 
back to the river for the three-eyed catfish no one caught for eatin 
and, when left on the roads to wither, churned up chemicals, co j 
dust and broken beer bottles. I came back because it had an unde 
tow which swallowed grown men alive. 

One of the last days before I exchanged slash pine for she< 
and minnows for mirrors, Margaret took to coming with me agai .j 
We wandered thick into a cornfield until we got lost, me kickii; 
over some bushels of grain in a clearing for dwarf wheat. Loc\ 
Margaret said, beyond the thicket, and she slipped towards the tips 



68 



all stalks, wandering wild in the wheat. The tall stalks of grain, 
iigh gold like wheat, with wheat-like kernels, but too tall to be 
;rown around these parts, parted curtain-like. She sat on the roof 
>f a rusted car. 

She slipped in the drivers' side, hunched over the wheel. 
This car is going to take me to New York, Margaret said. Margaret, I 
aid, getting in, we sin when we behave superstitiously. Margaret 
limbed out the other side, saying how bright the sun is, running 
iptide back to the ranch, past One-Eyed Willy's wired, tired back 
>orch. 

Seasons a slip of time, something to change clothes for... 

Heads down, we walked to the shed, he occasionally glanc- 
ng back frowning as I followed too slowly, our breaths rising steam 
hrough the dawn. The second-floor of the shed, for tools and 
upplies, a room of peeling-paint and sawdust, cobwebs and clus- 
ered leaves, couldn't contain heat. He shut the door, turned to face 
ne. I focused on the fields outside, his hand swallowing my stom- 
jch. The streets below spreaded darker than the bottom of the sea; 
he river drank them down. 

Footsteps pounding up the planks to the second-floor of 
he shed, Theo in the doorway, Theo throwing him screaming 
itirough the window to the soil. 

Theo stopped speaking to me until the next summer, when 
e developed a system of sucking on a piece of grass, a cock-quail 
:ream to send me shedding shoes downstairs and out the front 
oor. Margaret included me as case number four of her fruitless 
pute. Troubled? Try Prayer... 

I followed, had, have, am following Theo through the corn 
nd dwarf wheat, to the rusted body of a car with a trunkful of 
r heat, with wheat coming up between the carseats, engine threaded 
irough the vents with waist-high reeds, seaweed and birchbark, 
irried from the woodlands. I fell, had, have, am falling forward 
lto where I always wanted to be, until we, wheat and river and 
»peness, rot to the bruised plum of the twilight sky. 



69 



I wake at three in the morning, feel my mother in the room. 
I wake at three, wear my mother's eyes about my shoulders. Her 
picture on the wall stretches the fibers in my chest suddenly for- 
ward, shrinks my lungs. My mother blows the soft hairs on my 
arms, sees my eyes on her picture, knows me naked in bed, sees 
beyond covers, beyond skin, beyond the lie of the river and the 
wheat. 

Here is her funeral at the town church: Somerset Nead and 
Jimmy Rowe, the younger, and four men I don't know as pallbear- 
ers. 

Here is Margaret marrying Craven Goodspeed, she saying 
do with sand in her teeth, him speaking for the first time after Ok 
Man Reamy hung himself, everyone else struck dumb. 

Here is Muddy Creek which runs into Ten Mile Creek whicl 
floods into the Mongahela which swallows grown men alive. 

Here is One-Eyed Willy's porch, sagging and swarmed b] 
vagrant riverboat gamblers, her grave beneath the pussy willow. 

Here is the barn and the ranch where Junior Johnson wen 
down humping, a lasso in his mouth, now the town doctor's coun 
try house. 

Here is a cornfield which turns into dwarf wheat which lead 
to a rusted car body, holes in the hood rusted through, strange grai 
sticking high like the wheat through the cracks in the backseat. 

Bone outlasts wood, teeth outlasts rusted steel, Theo's teet 
and my teeth outlasting all these words turned true for the speal 
ing. 

Here is me with my hand on the handle. The hills rise u] 
browning all the bodies here, between mountains. 

I 



Kate Zangrilli 



ti 



70 



"Dorothea Lange s 
Plantation Overseer..." 



Dorothea Lange's 'Plantation Overseer Mississippi Delta near 
Harksdale, Mississippi, July 1936' 

Earlier, I'd gotten at them through the ways they'd been torn loose, 
>ut now (in the South) I had to get at them through the ways they 
vere bound up..." 

It is July with the sun coming down in balloons of heat and 
todies of moisture lift off the split earth, vanish in the air. Six men 
ake a break on the chewed steps of the general store. Their raw- 
; dged hats darken their faces with disks of shadows. Their sleeves 
re rolled up to their elbows and the sweat from their chests blooms 
n their shirts in dark diamonds. 

The overseer cracks his mouth open and lifts his heavy chin 
p the sun. His leg rests on the metal bumper of his car. The col- 
red license plate emerges from under his thigh. His hand grips his 
:g as his great stomach stretches across space. He assumes the hol- 
>w pose of some colossus in his sporting pin-striped pants and 
rapped suspenders. He is restless, but he has nothing to do. As an 
verseer, all he can do is watch damp bodies stained by the sun 
end against the earth, cultivating nothing but mud. 

"We've got the finest mud, boys. The finest mud around 
lese parts," he almost says. 

The boys rest quietly behind him. Five black faces watch- 
ig the weather play day- venturing vampire. Their pants are rolled 
id their boots are light with dust. Three sit, two stand. One sucks 
.ie narrow eye of a smoking pipe despite the heat. His legs are 
oen and his arms fold across his knees. Another rests his fingers 
«ii his lips, another's palms relaxing together in the bed of his lap. 

They have no work. Bricks are stacked in a weed-molested 
ijle underneath the exposed porch of the general store, but there is 
:>thing to build. Plants are screaming to be bom, but there is no 



71 



water- just expensive glass bottles of Coca-Cola standing like frosted 
ballerinas in the general store's icebox. 

"But who can feed a plantation with Coca-Cola?" 

They are bound here by their families' steaming mouths 
that reach in moving caverns for money and for food. Roads and 
transportation blink off into curving contours of the earth, but there 
is no destination better than this one. Every other town across the 
country bears the same parched pockets. Six men press their handj 
against the worn cloth of their ironed trousers. It is better to main- 
tain what one already has than to move away, to California or to the | 
West; give it all up in precarious hopes of recreating a new life there | 

"Just waiting for night to come and slip me into a realnj 
where I go places, work, rest, and touch water." 



Caitlin Berrigan 




Carl Dietz 



73 




Lisa Lake 



74 



Permutations 



Describe it as the eye behind the eye. Call it a muscle, a 
mdon, but hard as a turkey's hairpin neck bone. Name it a disk, 
at, set back from the bulge of iris, for bending light, a screw be- 
ind the ear, for turning sound, a stem up the nose for channeling 
nell. Say it until its name no longer matters. 

Your hearing is the first to go. After you wake to fluttering 
ps dripping no sound, your wanting wakes the sound of water 
ipping down the sink. But the faucet in the sink leaks no water; 
lin hasn't come in weeks. Dripping itches inside your ear to keep 
le ticking close. Second to go is the light, washing away in color 
wheels. Your eyes go marine, garden green, fingernails black from 
ngers full of sight. Your tongue is the third to go; mouth dries up; 
iste and lip split together. 

If he trusted his voice or the eye behind his eye, now flood- 
lg, he might have said out loud: Diesel, Diesel, Motorcycle People, 
iam Lake. Marisa on the porch, peeps around the drainpipe as if 
) take stock of things she'd planted there; Liam Lake, arms akimbo, 
vings on the screen door as if to sideways stretch himself door-tall. 

Liam Lake knows the knots in his father's eyes, steaming 
rens of ropeburn-flame. He knows, too, the tough to the touch, 
lakeskin-smooth spread of skin, the blonde arm hairs a blinding 
k the surprise beneath, a pomegranate illusion, beaded inside. 

Diesel's spit on the sidewalk sizzles like cinder in the sun, 
Is face flattened slack, his eyes like too-strong lights your eyes see 
iough closed. 

Howard lips a thin smile and slams the door. 

Diesel explained to Liam that the girl behind the garage was 
<»ffee-raw and thin as tea, taut around the thigh, someone to sling 
; ross your shoulder and carry through frost and fire, a smiling some- 
liing in the making. By Diesel's lips, night fell heavier than sleep. 

"What did you do when Dad came out? And hammered 
i> the for-sale sign? Bet you lost it there, Champ." 



75 



"I told her he was a musician. That musicians are sad all the 
time." Diesel leans back, like his dad relaxed at the suppertable 
"That girl was too wild for color TV." 

Marisa weeds peonies, her suitcases stacked on the luggag< 
racks, tied in tight by the ropes they used this time last month 
Liam looks east, trying to guess the name of the new state, the town 
how many beatings the boys will give him in school for a break-in 
Diesel leans against the bird-ledge near the tar path to the back! 
waiting for his father to come, dragging the last of everything. 

"I'm not leaving this time," Diesel says at the first stroke o 
Howard's shadow. "You go. Mom got this peony garden, Liar 
Lake likes it here..." 

"Diesel..." Marisa says. 

"Nashville, Macon, Kennebunkport. Houston, back I 
Kennebunkport. Philly, Lawrenceville, Syracuse. Salem MA. Bo; 
ton, Bangor, Buffalo. Salem NH. Chicago, Charleston, Port Larvi: ! 
What do you think you are, a Greyhound bus?" 

Marisa drives so slowly that Liam Lake catches geometr 
flashes of sunlight across stop signs, the smell of shucked corn. 

Howard sits on his hands to keep them still, says, tongii 
robust after a month of dried quiet, a canning, that Port Larvis w; 
a cross between an insane asylum and a voodoo junkyard, spel 
bound by brimstone and knee-buckled before amber lamps an 
gas-station soothsayers. 

Howard looks with his eye behind his eye at the restaurar I 
The Famous Painter. From the side of the restaurant the light ben< 
a favorable forward direction, bat-winged. 

Diesel and Liam Lake like the look of the waitress's legs I 
she hands them a menu. Diesel nudges Liam Lake as she bends 
hear what Howard asks, for water, at her arched over him, all sm 
ing face and sexy legs. 

Howard flings the menu down and leaves. 

Diesel swears everyone watches them as they leave the r< 
taurant. He swears the waitress with the sexy legs stops servi 
other patrons to stare. 

By Howard's mouth, The Famous Painter had his decin 
points in all the wrong places. According to Howard's lips, Marj 



76 



drives too slow; pass the damn keys, please. The light off that waitress 
skyrocketed, a real loony on-line all-the-time, too. Did you see her? 
That weird look on her face? 

Though the phone rings in the flat above and below and 
reside him, Howard's new phone doesn't ring. He ripped it out of 
:he jack last week because the phone ringing from people wanting 
:o order pizzaaa! from Papa John's or get their hair done at the Pink 
^oodle Hair Salon rung like to make his ears fall off. Liam Lake 
ringing home a cat who sits at the bottom of the bathtub, fleas 
;rawling up the mud and chipped plaster, set Howard's tongue to 
welling syrup-thick. 

Only two weeks without a job and doors flap back hard 
enough to shut themselves on the swing back. Diesel doesn't undo 
tny bags, leaving them in the trunk, thinking himself a man to be 
eckoned with. Diesel says to Liam Lake: "Everything is a game. 
Homing late to dinner is a game. Going to church is a game. So 
tart packing, Champ." 

At a rest stop a few skips outside of South Dakota, Diesel 
>ours into the pay-phone his last stash of silver from the job he quit 
yith no notice upon leaving Port Larvis. He imagines his Her cra- 
lling the phone on her shoulder, swatting at someone else down 
bout her thighs, nodding and swishing her yeses, all the while wait- 
ng for the quarters to run dry. 

Back on the highway, swooping down the ramp above roof- 
ops, Marisa, with bit lip, bores her eyes into the insides of houses, 
t the lit-up windows, frames for dusty tables and dresser drawers, 
iam Lake says in Minnesota that their noses appear to be caving 
ji, that Marisa, her matted hair a mess of withered roses, looks like 
omeone had put their hand on the top of her head and pushed 
I own, bending her back at the nape of her neck. 

A strip of flatland, a mudslide somewhere: nobody but 
loward notices the name; as if by names and month-long stays, the 
lythms of the place get into the dish water and spark up your 
ngers, as if by names, the slant to their tongues becomes your 
ant, as if by a month, the people start knowing your shadow from 
t le swing in your step, the story of where Liam Lake got his swift 
ft hook. Marisa cooks cod and cranberries to celebrate Howard's 

77 



coming home with the landscaping job. 

Howard tells them, cranberry juice dripping out his lip, 
about knowing which plants grow in sun and which in shade, about 
which plants grow in acidic soil and which plants don't. Mariss 
bends her head to look like she's listening, her eyes all set to shining 
over. 

Describe it as the swim of fish through ribs at a first kiss 
her way of loving the cold-water flat. Name it a blush she feel, 
riding from her hands to her hair when she combs the yard-wid< 
strip of virgin soil outside, the tingle in her heels when it softens fo 
a side of sunflowers. 

After a month, Diesel stops putting his shoes back in hi 
suitcase before he sleeps. Liam Lake takes to looking for the trail 
of a dog with a lopsided lope, thinking it might like the leg of laml 
leftover from a stew. 

Work goes so well that Howard comes home topsy-turv 
with tips on tulips and two-bit tractors, a man of know-how an 
style, knowledge to the nines. 

"Dad, I need to start looking for a job. Dad, okay?" Dies 
says, knowing how sentences sound in Howard's ear - playing like 
record rounding about at the wrong speed, crushed sound shot 01 
wrong from afar: the same twelve words spawning new slips 
tongue, a twist in the ear: "Daod, ai neeod too staort lowking forw 
joab.Daod, owkaai?Daod, ai neeod too staort lowking forwa 
joab.DaodDaod." A theory of sound looming from long before 
theory tumbling out from a barber shop scene, that time when h 
dad drove the truck into the storefront glass, and skidded away b 
fore anyone could scribble down his plate. A man in the shop h 
coughed in his dad's direction, not stopping it by lifting his fist 
his mouth, spawning germs on his dad's shirt. His dad saw with \ 
light-bending eyes the germs crawl and stick to his clothes. 7 
man had planned it all along y in-cahoots with the hair-cutter. T 
truck through the storefront fixed that. 

No school, no work until we get settled. This is a gan 
Diesel, isn't it. Don't think I don't know what you're trying to c 
You should know better. 

Days later, Howard drags Diesel to ask for a job at the Ian 



78 



leaping firm, subtracting a few numbers from the year of his birth. 
Diesel works with fingers which flow at machine speed, so hard 
hat his father has to come home and tell Liam Lake to help out 
tround the house more. Liam looks like his legs are growing out 
rom the television dial, his sock sprung from the screen, his mouth 
ved to the antenna, his tooth bucked up on bottom rim, armbone 
)low-torched to the volume button. 
Liam Lake scratches his nose. 

Watch those gestures, Liam. Even when I don't look at you, 
can see you. I can see you with the second eye I have, hear every 
vord you say with my second ear. I can slap you with my third 
land. 

Up the hill, Diesel finds his father listening to the Boss. 

"Howard, come on. I only ast you to clip them hedges be- 
muse you're good at it. Of course I don't have nothing against you. 
-•or real, tomorrow you can have your pick of jobs, for real." 

Howard spins around to Diesel who knows his dad had heard 
omething separate from what the boss had said - let's go. 

On the way home, racing through red lights, Howard says - 
veil, did you hear that? Did you listen to that low-life DiBucci lie 
hrough his no-good yellow teeth to me about what he was doing! Tell 
neyou didnt notice the way he favored them Rawlins boys. Tell me my 
\elling wasn't on the tip of your tongue! Tell me you couldn't smell that 
fitch- digging, DiBucci a mile away. 

The sound of sirens sends Howard spinning through a yard 
nd hedge-splitting behind a garage. He tears through tulip patches. 

He turns the key, telling Diesel to get down. 

The police sirens waddle around the corner, wither. Wait, 
loward says, still as straight pin, wait. They're trying to bait us. 
;)iesel looks at his watch. 

A half-hour later, Howard says, They're playing a waiting 

nme. 

An hour later, he hands the keys to Diesel. You drive. 

Diesel feels the car curve across the roads, curb-cutting and 
jrossing the yellow line, Howard cautioning, watch it! 

"DiBucci had his head in the soil. You could tell it, the way 
p watched the clipping and the mowing and the blowing as if it 



79 



didn't actually happen, mumbled about the lip about things to say 
to the client." Diesel says, skipping steps to the apartment door. 

Howard stalls at the foot of the stairs, skin sharpening about 
the jaw. Say what, Diesel? Say you think some dago knows how to run 
a shop better than me? 

"No aw, nowah, nowah.. daod..." 

Marisa's jaw slacks mid-sentence when she comes in the door. 
"You're home early," she says. 
No. No, Marisa. Where were you? 
"Church." 

A moment. Another. Diesel traces patters into the coucr 
with his fingertip. Liam Lake scratches his wrist. 

Lets talk about God, Marisa, Howard says. This god of your 
loses my job and sends a policeman on my tail. Ask Diesel if you don 
believe me. Tell me there's a just God that lets that happen... 

Marisa closes the door and walks close to him. 

He turns away. 

On the highway, Diesel denies the road. He looks throu 
Liam Lake beside him, feels himself fall through the car seat b 
neath him. Sometimes the moon is a streetlamp out a windo 
Name it streetlight; call it a moon. He's only sure of the shini 
through the shade, the shadows of cars slicing up train tracks, silv 
slats, train tracks, on the walls. 

Half a year into New Orleans, Marisa grows into the mo 
beautiful woman Diesel ever saw. Ask Liam Lake: she's the Mo 
Beautiful Woman in New Orleans. Orange juice and hot-cross bui 
streak every Sunday; Sundays bleed a low blue-red, a stained-gla 
frame for the keeping. Liam Lake can walk - blindfolded and spu 
around three times - down the block, bending down back streel 
across the tracks to the white-steepled church, in squeaky shoes ar 
hand-me-down finery. The cat, Snowball, tears up the trash on tl 
streets on Tuesdays. Nobody minds. 

A woman Howard met in the hospital thinks he's her so 
She salutes him in gibberish, touching his cheek and saying, Get 
gia Longstraw, yellow heartpine. Then his ears swell up with pul 
and he can't hear from the rush RUSH rush RUSH of thund 



80 



mbbling against his eardrum to the outside. A shuddering, the 
lurse pulling at the blue bag beside his bed. Look at that ole nurse, 
^ghtin that turkey. It could be Thanksgiving. She could be his 
ister, chasing the headless bird around the yard for dinner. 

When he's well, he'll spring out of this room like a spark 
)lown skyward. When he's well, he'll be his best friend in the uni- 
verse, and then some. When he's well, Marisa will be the Queen of 
he Dimes. Houfd the nurse end up in the hospital on Christmas Eve? 

Bet she's getting time and a half. 

Marisa in the doorway is a peat fire in the spring. 

Come here, he says. He finds her wrist and drops his nails 
iround under her veins and squeezes until his nails meet each other 
hrough her skin. 

When she screams, his ears have gone clean. 

So you are real, after all. 

The nurse in the doorway is the worst kind of nothing, a 
vail of bricks over the window. 

Marisa says, hey. Marisa walks over and whispers to her. 
lis new ears find "time alone together", "please", "but its New Year's 
Ve!" The wall of bricks in the window shuts the door as she leaves. 

Did you know we only have nine hours of day? Did you know 
hat the moon, full and round as an old television breathing out blue 
fit, was the last Christmas full moon over earth until centuries after 
\ou will have died? 

In the morning, Marisa is a blister in his mouth. 

"What are knives for?" She holds a pill over the trash. 
Bread, butter, he says. 

"What is rope for?" She still hasn't dropped it. 
Securing luggage. 

"See, it is already in your mouth." She chucks the pillbox at 
;is pillowcase. 

When she smiles, all the light from the outside strikes 
irough the room. Christmas doesn't happen here, but she is glow- 
ig, a tree in the window, the dove blown out the chimney. 



Kate Zangrilli 



81 



cat lives 



you have stretched out 
your cat lives, 
two have lost 

of iron bathtubs, of ghettos. 

and quite the killer with that 

(that ... ) pretty Southern Thing you do, 

standing ten feet tall and 

strung up pearls (you know it's true) 

and my house is just spooks an' mischief. 

rattlin' 'round in thar. 

oh, somedays they do provide for comfort, 
with kerchief and parasol 
a prince in so many words. 

and somedays hollow. 

liquor-heavy breath and all 

just a catchin' up to yer fancy at'ributes. 

stitched up with bright, bright 

copper veins. 

your chest maps out 

each life into a purrfect chime. 

you carry your souls, 

your shirtsleeves. 



Erik Jungbacker 



82 



The Remains 



Or, should you wish it, the 
conversational tone that comes from 
two drinks, 

As fall faded into 
water, you shouted across the 
yard. The dream began, I 
gasped, and the fire came. 

Again tonight I dreamt the dream 
at the telescope, stretching across the 
sky, across the aether or, unfocused, on a 
pink painting of jonquils in May. 

Years recede or fall like water 
below the ebb. That anthropomorphic Eisenhower. 
In spring we fall to the glass, hoping to trap the moon, 
moment, thistle, redolent of burgeoning flowers, 
the grass before summer that harbored 
that musty unfulfillment, coming to catch 
us again, ever again. 

A series of notes as the foot 

falls, this is the one for whom you 

juggle the sciences. All the time I walk 

though the snow hoping for the chance 

at you, Winter ends summarily 

and with litde circumstance; those dormant 

arise to the sounds of pattering. What was it 

Robert Graves wrote? 

She tells her love while half asleep, 

In the dark hours 

With half-words whispered low 
As earth stirs in her winter sleep 
and puts out grass and flowers 
Despite the snow, 



83 



Despite the falling snow. 

A fogged window at twilight, 
the time before dusk when the sun is broad 
and tumbling to its orange death. Sometimes, 
I sit, others I stand, but there is always 
something falling as when the world flies on 
invisible axes like so much rain, so much twilight. 

In my best moments, I lay in the 

cool dawn, thinking of plurality and 

the key which locks capitals of the first 

person plural, the first time we met 

and the heat of metal when 

it is evident or, alternately 

a small, exquisite painting by Poussin- 

industry, wealth, poverty, hedonism, The 

rich colors of two triangles that emerge, 

the bifocals he wore. Maybe that was Chardin 

Sometimes I wish I were 

a painter, as Frank O'Hara said, because then 

I (Grant Wood, no) could wear blue without 

green, I could foreshorten badly or paint 

wine falling on a sleeve. Summer air 

is full of children, statues, roofs, 

and snow. And Ludwig Richter, 

with his circles and circles of 

emotions, top to bottom, coming 

from the far barrier. 

This is what we come to, in the end. 
Disjointed As and H's. Correspondence 
without correspondent, iron without ochroid, 
summer without lightning, 13th without December 
I will be happy with reciprocity. 
The woods are lovely-dark and deep- 
indeed, paradigm of common experience. 



84 



The adumbration of the lights at Christmas, 
a glittering necklace, the glittering pfizes, not 
that Rafael had intended. Finally, here 
they lie, the remains of the old life, the 
other world, where it was you and I and 
Rostropovich and that, as you said was art- 
why didn't I quit but again, there we were 
a row of nickels, Duffell, Veyne, Lowell, 
Hopkins, Lowell, Forster, Wodehouse, Austen, 
the swirling winds, swirling sounds. 
I never though I could be as strong as this. 
It is all for you. These rocks, waters, seas. 
Again, finally, always, we lie, in last sun, 
immortal, for the final arrival, and our knuckles white. 
A line of our own, piercing 
Florence, a dream of patterns 

across the sky again for you, one more time for you. 



Charlie Finch 



85 



Jan Smejkal 



86 



Goethe Dreams of Ottilie 



"Turn it how one will, one always imagines oneself 
seeing. I think we dream solely to prevent ourselves 
from ceasing to see." Goethe, Elective Affinities 

My hands are all that 

are warm 
pressed together, thumb gripping 

thumb 

webs of skin stretch and bend. 
But my feet wear scales 
cold, cold-blooded 

soaking in the hardest air, soaking in the space 
beneath the chair, marked in Nauman's concrete. 

Between my palms, their fortune lines, 

this warmth builds, 

and there I am in my hands, 

(my hands become my body, 

and the sounds are everything else); 

each twitch, scratch, turn 

is magnified. These loud sounds, too, 

are my hands and the air, 

pressure at the thumb and middle finger 

the tooth in the gum and 

only the breathing 

and every turn of the neck exist. 

Sweeping scenes, sweeping, covering 

and then in very close 
to a face moving in a moment 

like this, hearing bones 

and cartilage deep within. 
The feet can warm 



87 



and uncurling are stuck 
in the space 

and afraid of the noise 
of the magnitude and of meaning. 

I. 

Distilled perhaps into this 

gash in the yellow wallpaper, 

thickly curved legs and pasted upholstery 

overhung and fingered 

by a tilting painting, pyramidic balance destroyed 

against the wood grain. Its circular canvas 

and the coloring of the woman at the center 

recall Ingres and his Turkish baths 

in a much bigger building. 

And there is the circle beneath it, 

globe in its turning stand, 

a grossly fat South America, elongated Africa, 

fitted, notched, strung on 

helpless brass rollers. 

We look up, over the overturned irises 

and dusted tea service 

into the bay window 

expecting the ocean 

to the molding as it gaps from the floor. 
II. 

The arch I used to draw 

pulling eyebrow over eye 

and down a line to the nose, 

nursery's Picasso (also Gorky s woman painter) 

seen so clearly today in a face. 

Stylization is never simplification, 

the head seemed all the more complex. 

It was the lines and the painters frame, 

like bent-back thumb 

or curve in the river. 



88 



It was nature and math and pure bone 
rattling from inside against the skin. 

in. 

In January 

when days begin already 
to grow noticeably longer, 
the dusk is gray 
rather than blue. 

I've heard that the cashew 

is a legume, 

but its tree is 

of the Sumac family. 

Giant needles, elongated drops 
of metal, arms held in with palms up 
planted like dripping stalks, 
were used by the Dogan people 
to call the rain. 

IV. 

Repetition goes hand 
in hand with uniqueness. 
Geometries, snowflakes, and 
many tear drops, 

"Printmaking mimics what we are 
as humans: ... all the same 
and yet every one different." 
What we call a tree, what a child 
draws, stiff trunk with a squirrel's hole, 
ruffled bush atop, 

when you can only draw one face — 

corners and categories ensconce each real thing, 

so that beneath the squirrel's hole 

and stiff trunk, we see not only 

what we can recognize 



89 



but also what we cannot. 

Plato believed all horses 

to have been formed from the mold 

of the ideal horse, every horse a shadow 

of The Horse, and every horse 

housing its own imperfections 

which make it a shadow and not the first. 

I believe all days to be the same, 

a list, identical boxes. 

But some days it rains, 

and some days the sun rises at 6:18 

instead of at 6:30. 

And each day we recognize 

what the day before we could not. 



Kate Nesin 



90 



At a Table Drinking Tea 



Streams of lighted drops 

dangle from pole to tree 

reflecting in window, reflecting in window 

spouting from lamppost 

looping across entryways 

a woman in her tall black boots catches the shine 

on her leather 

beads fall from 

the glossy shopping bags 

banging her thigh 

with every step by 

as 

the blue glow of bus 
sweeps by 

catching pearls in her windshield 

the tortoise shell glassed woman 
with hands that talk 

also drinking from a crimson rimmed cup 
tells her friend about 
her lover's other lover 
while 

I sip from the chilled cup 

the tannin coating my palette 

my cheek pressed to the glass 

looking at the woman and the buses and myself- 

reflected 

on a sidewalk, on a crosswalk 

the ashtray, the fake marble table 

the chipped pot and cup, curled into my hands 

the dog eared book I pretend to read sometimes 

this poem 



91 



the lady with the hands that talk 

nurses her coffee with milk into the cement 

I write on curb stones 

and get cut 

by smoke trailing women 
dragging children or lovers 

and the lights reflect off bus and car windows 
in my own eyes, reflecting 



Kim Pope 



92 




Lisa Lake 



93 



"freshness of the voices. . 



freshness of the voices 
piercing cross the trees 
the voices caged in class 
the trees tied up in leaves 
while the wind above is blowing 
students all caught up in knowing 
wish their lives would go a'marching 
marching on. 

their footsteps to a rhythm: 

marching song. 

if you can shout most shrilly 

and your answer's the most right 

then you'll be the first to suffocate 

in weighty, shady spite. 

and if your heart's a'steeping 

an anticipation brew 

let's sit down, talk some shit 

heart- tea for two, 

our caffeinated nerves a wearing through; 
i'm twice as ready to bust out as you. 



Hillary Dresser 



94 




Shivani Reddy 



95 



boy 



He is unmistakably a little boy, 

with a broad flat back— 

his shoulders are outposts 

of his torso— 

the lines of his neck 

reveal that it is a vase 

with hair spilling gently from the top 

like wilting flowers— 

his small legs stream from his hips 

and his knees aim inward 

as he sits, 

begging his whole body 

to crouch into fetal position- 



Michael Chagnon 



96 



Mimi Tseng 



97 



"life beat..." 



life beat 
strong beat 
heart beats 
lung breathes 
nigh time 
is right time 
fire light 
ice white 
chance licks 
change ticks 

and a girl marching through snow 
with boy and life in tow. 



Hillary Dresser 



98 



"Arched..." 



Arched 
Tail 

Outlined in white 
Fur. 

hands on 
The Acorn. 
The smallest 
Tree. 



Debbie Schwartz 



99 



" . . .We must go and work 
in the garden." 



"...we must go and work in the garden." 

-Voltaire in Candide 

The sun has not touched the garden yet, 

but those who remember past a day's eternity 

recall its distant glare. 

The sun has not touched the garden yet, 

and the flowers there revel in their dormancy, 

kept safe from the outside rumblings 

of rickshaw revolutions. 

A spectacled gardener 
clad in proletarian blue 
digs in the darkness 
hands worn by the burden of 
lost opulence. 
His weary eyes, 
accustomed to the night, 
long not for vanished glories. 
Only the flowers await 
the splendor of sunset 
that knowing ex-emperors 
can call revenge. 

The sun has not touched the garden yet 

and the flowers there remain unheard, 

but the tired stoics 

begin to yearn 

searching the east for 

unfolding prophecies 

kept secret in the rhythm 



100 



of the sun, the tide, 

and rickshaw revolutions. 

Inspired by the film The Last Emperor ( directed 
by Bernardo Bertolucci) 



Matt O'Brien 



101 




Ariel Lam be 



102 



Wenceslas Square 



'Twas a quiet morning, 
'Twas there but little warning, 
When the mind was churning, 
And the body was burning, 

Wenceslas Square 
But he was but a boy, 
with a life devoid of joy, 
He heard the desparation calling, 
and his star began falling, 
When the mind was churning, 
and the body was burning 

Wenceslas Square 
A student repulsing the practice, 
Perhaps he did miss, 
A freedom he never had, 
Sweet Jesus, Commy's bad, 
Churning, 
Burning, 

Wenceslas Square. 
And so good King, 
What in hell were you doing? 
Whilst he was churning, 
Whilst he was burning, 

dear Wenceslas? 
It happened ar your base, 
Not to change your face, 
Done in your name, 
But you didn't care, did you, 

sweet Weceslas? 
But why are you leige and lord, 
Because you were good with the sword? 
No, ye were great, 
ye changed the fate, 
O! Czech mates. 



103 



Good Wenceslas. 
And so the people worship, 
a spirit of bad rip, 
Sweet Jesus, what happened there? 
What does it matter when you don't care? 

Are you sick Wenceslas? 
Sick Indeed, 

Bid well to the good seed, 

and the thin reed, 

That which lay churning, 

A body burning, 

And for you! 

At Wenceslas Square. 



Dan Sullivan 



104 



Don Jibaro 



The brown soul of the island 

slaves en el campo 

day after day 

sunrise to sunset 

he tends to the field 

making it his life 

His pain is shown 

by the 9 platano fingers 

of his soft rock hands 

and the rivers 

carved along his face 

providing channels 

for the bodies of sweat 

He never washes away 

the stain and the pain 

of the past 506 years 

on his sparse attire 

trigueno skin and tattered soul 

Soy jibaro 

Soy Puerto Rico en corazon y alrna 
y tu tambien 

he silently grunts to his invisible jibarito son 

because he wears his stain proudly 

Looking at the box upon the box 

with sullen eyes 

he watches highlights 

of the 2nd Sunday in June 

pondering the difference 

from 1868 

Seeing the blind intelligence 
unchanneled emotion 
and unjust satisfaction 
of the 2 million portogringos 



105 



lets him know that its time 
contra ignorance 
contra assimilation 
contra prop 187 
contra enghsh only 
contra AmeriKKKa 

Don Jibaro peers into 

the red - amber sunset 

of el jibarito eyes in el Bronx 

and tells him silently 

El segundo grito es necesario ahora 

para salvar la gente puertorriquena y tu tambien 

La futura es en tus manos mijo 

After his message 

he rests in his splintery oak rocking chair 

inhales hope 

exhales his fear 

grabs his machete Ana 

and awaits 



Anthony Morales 



106 



Ariel Lambe 
T07~ 



The Infinite Jest 



Mystic train rollin' through the night, 

Hundred miles a day, 

You know it's a million mile flight. 

Jack the ragged jester in the court of the homely king, 

You know who's in charge of this thing, 

It's Jack on his chess pawn horse, 

It's he who plots our crazy course, 

Through the lonely mountains of father time, 

Changes direction on a dirty silver dime, 

Where this train's rollin', only Jack knows, 

Where his jest takes us, where his breath blows. 

Mystic train rollin' through the night, 

Hundred miles a day, 

You know it's a million mile flight. 

Jack's back, now on the winedark sea, 

Plowin' through the waves, his breath sets us free, 

"But are we free? " the black crow raves, 

You know our fate lies deep beneath the waves, 

Jack knows this, let's us know all the time, 

Tells us with his wild reason and rhyme, 

Jack reports to the king each day, 

But who's the king? Jack gets his way. 

Mystic train rollin' through the night, 

Hundred miles a day, 

You know it's a million mile flight. 



Patrick Morrissey 



108 




Dan Addison 



109 



Two Sisters 



September with her carved out eyes 
Servile January bending before the year 

One, the first, held a bleeding dagger mixed with the 

venom of her abrasive, indulgent anger. 
The monotony of her days stretched out before me like 

the crimson welts running up and down her 

outstretched arms, 
Until autumn scratched and scraped me with her metal 

burrs, 

Shocking me back into existence. 

The other, the Sycophantic Sister, 
She held a confusing sky in her lap, pressed close to her 
womb. 

Sunsets scarlet lifeblood was smeared across the frozen 

stillness of winter night, 
And shadowy thoughts darted furtively through the dark. 

January's scent is the cleanest, purest smell on earth, 
Unfettered by the sickly sweet incense of summer 

breezes, 
By fall's dusty leaves, 
By spring's fresh perfume of life. 
Winter air is cold, 
Its wind mordant and harsh, 
As if purified by pain. 



Ann Lin 



110 




Ariel Lam be 



111 



"Ad Pyrrhum" 
(adapted from Horace 1.5) 



What poor slim girl is it now, Pyrrhus, 

drenched in sweet cloying perfume, who waits on your 

pleasure, 
all roses, in your lair? 
For whom do you brush back 
your wicked gold hair, 

simple in elegance? Lord, now she'll scream 
out her fate soon enough, and she'll see 
how cruel snap your black whims, 
that soft-eyed child 

who now trusts in your mercy, in you, gold, 
who prays for your sweetness, and time, 
she who's never seen a false wind 
kill a sailor. God save the virgins 
who see your eyes shine. 

The sacred wall shows yet, on my inscriptions, 
I hung my torn and dripping clothes, in votive 
to your Ocean's vicious god. 



Amy O'Neal 



112 



If He Had Done it With His Hands 



I bet that anyone in the room could say that they know a 
girl who lets her boyfriend treat her badly. In fact, I know we all 
could, 'cause there are girls like that everywhere. I don't know how 
they'd ever get to a point where they feel like they can take it, I 
know I couldn't, but they always seem to rationalize everything. 
Maybe its not so much rationalizing as only remembering the good 
stuff. I guess it doesn't really matter. I guess they learn it from their 
mothers or their sisters and just don't even know what they are do- 
ing. "God", you say to yourself, "it's sooo obvious what he's doing 
to her, why does she let him do that? Some girls are really desper- 
ate..." But when you come down to it, it's easier for them not to see 
what's happening than to see, know what I mean? 

There was this girl that I knew once. She was gorgeous , you 
know, perfect body, perfect skin... the works. There were guys fall- 
ing all over her when she stepped out of the apartment. It was sick, 
it really was. Well anyway, as I was saying, this girl — she had this 
boyfriend. Yeah, he was cute, but he was the kind of guy who knows 
he's cute, so he sort of lost that "innocent" look, if you know what I 
mean. They were together for a long time. 

Sometimes he would send her flowers. Sometimes his face 
Bit up when he saw her coming. Sometimes he said things to her 
that made her heart melt right out of her chest. Sometimes he 
bought her pretty things, and sometimes he told her that she looked 
nice. It happened. I am not denying that it happened, but there 
was a lot more to the story than that. 

Most of the time he made her feel like she belonged scrap- 
ing dirt off of the bottom of the world. When she asked questions, 
strictly by way of making good conversation, he would make her 
eel like her brain had momentarily hitched a ride out of town. He 
:alked about other girls in front of her even though he knew that 
he was head-over-heels for him, that she would do anything for 
lim, and that the thing that bothered her most was the idea of him 
>eing with another girl. See, she had gotten to that point where she 
lepended on him for her self-confidence. He knew that. He knew 



113 



that all too well, so he dealt the blows. It almost seemed like he 
thrived on her suffering. Through it all, she just kept on smiling. 
She never let him see how much he was hurting her. Now it seems 
to me like he knew exactly how much he was making her wriggle. 
"I've heard enough," you're saying to yourself, "when are we going 
to get to the juicy stuff? The beating? The revenge? The victory for 
all womankind?" Sorry ladies. There's something you gotta under- 
stand. There's no beating in this story. There's no suicide. There's 
no cutting of the vitals with a sharp-edged knife — no happy end- 
ing. See this girl, she just got to a point where she couldn't keep the 
wool over her eyes anymore. She couldn't hide under that stupid, 
plastic, smiling mask and take it. She lost herself to him. After all 
of that, after all she did for him and was willing to give him, he left 
her. "That's understandable." you say, "People fall out of love, right?" 
I guess that I can agree, people do, but not like this. That beautiful 
girl that walked into his arms walked out feeling like the ugliest girl 
on Earth. That smart girl that took the first bite of dinner on that 
first date walked out of their apartment after dinner for the last 
time feeling like the stupidest girl that ever lived. That skin that 
started out so radiant, glowing with the promise of love and "hap- 
pily-ever-after" ended up pale and drawn like one of those ceramic 
clown dolls. The eyes are what get me the worst, though. Her eyes 
used to be this clear, blue-green-gray color that invited the world 
into them, and now they are red-rimmed and indifferent. Indiffer- 
ence is the biggest bomb there is. The worst part of it all is that h< 
didn't do the damage with his hands. If he had done it with hi, 
hands, she would have noticed before she lost herself. He did i 
with his words and his looks. He did it when he was trying to pu 
on a show for his friends or when he felt so bad about himself tha 
it made him feel better to abuse her. If he had done it with hi 
hands, her older brother would have beat him down, and that woul 
have been the end of that. If he had done it with his hands, sh 
wouldn't have been able to ignore it for so long. Love makes yo 
blind sometimes, I guess. That's what I think, anyway. It mus 
because if she had seen what he was doing to her, if she had see 
what she was turning into, if she had known how many times 
would make her cry, and how hard, she wouldn't even have give 



him a second glance, because she is better than that. She is a mil- 
lion times better that what he made her feel like, a million 
times... only she sees through his eyes now. 



Julia Galaburda 



I 

t 



115 



asons Birthday, Up at Camp" 



Down in the Brownie unit, one night, 
we all had to get out our sleeping bags 
and sleep in the big screened-in place. 
The head counselor lady said to us 
Tonight it's Jason's birthday. Tonight 
we're gonna try to keep y'all safe, but Jason 
might come around. 

There weren't any big Girl Scouts 
in the big Girl Scouts' cabins, out up 
in the woods, by the lake. 
Not tonight. Earlier, maybe, before. 
Not tonight. Not on Jason's birthday. 

They said the big Girl Scouts 

went somewhere else, on account of 

it was dangerous, up in those tiny, 

cold cabins, by the rockfall down the lake, 

on Jason's birthday. 

Lara was bad. She kept on saying 
just some guy, it's just some man 
they have. I waited for death, 
half asleep. Lara said she'd bite 
his dingie off, if he came in here. 

Which he didn't. But he tried. 

Banged on the screen, banged on the walls 

About an hour later. Saw his paper mask 

and the hatchet, saw him pressed against 

the screen, and snarling at us. 

Tried to say: Come in here, and I'll kill you, 



116 



I'll kill you. Strangled in me, sniveling, 
it came out, He's faking. 'S gotta be faking it, 
he's a goddamned, 's gotta be a goddamned 
man, he's got a axe, he's got, he's a liar, 
liar, Tara, liar. 

Tall blond girl — Tara, counselor — had Lara 
on her Barbie sleeping bag, holding, rocking 
back and forth with her, and saying, not Jason, 
he's just a man from down the hill, in Grenada, 
he's going home now, to his house, and his kids. 
It's okay. It's okay. It's okay, hon. 



Amy O'Neal 



117 



James Brown Body 



Jess'ca with her little black forget-me-nots taped around 
her thigh 

and her breasts paling over her waisted towel 
like loaves of honeysuckle 

erected nectared necked 

high 

she has blanched her way to beds 
hulling boys and vampires 
(and some things in-between) 
teeth half-drawn, her wounds half-constructed 
and her heart half-gone, pittered somewhere dangerous 
where a green, gothed man made a coin wish on it 
drowned it in a well with 

silvered slips of desire and bloated pocket lint. 

Jess'ca barrels amber beer down her stomach, 
shakes a wicked hand of magic splayed fingers 

in front 
in back 

of her jamming James Brown Body, 
strips her jeans where streams 
of goosebumps line her skin, howls high-pitched like 
puppy 

on a night where she rides the beached surfboard 
in an ice-tangled pond 

she knows the earth is her mother 
and how to shred chivalry... 

but can she collapse herself? 
Without armor stand 

plush and still 
in front of a face so intense with long songs of need 
drawing out from under the bone? 



118 



She blades herself, depth ringing around her tongue 

(lust rotting with fatigue) 
stands like a hollow castle knight, 
blackness creaking through her joints 
still. . . but vanished. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



119 



Anna Maria Island Martinique 



Gloon-grounded bronzed bodies 

pulling at the sun like a baby pounds its mother's breast, 
they are filled and brimmed with 

"the good life" 
their bones and busts and brains transforming into 
fat gorillas peeling coloured sunset strips off mangoes and 

sucking on fruit. 

(Every day do they?) 

Shock their hot breath onto the pages of a newspaper 

(that eventually soak away) 
a plane has exploded from the belly out and 
plummeted like a sky-jumping thigh-pumping plum from 
space 

"Shucks. People are crazy," 
they say in a whir of 

suntan-lotioned, coconut-creamed eagle breath. 

Their feet snap over piles of clean curved shells on 
the beach 

their jogging shoes with even rubber soles 
can't glossssss over this decomposition in silence 

and their heart beats can't clock out 
the splitting of crabclaw and backbone against backbone 

Oh, they can just sit it out with pinwheels of sun hat: 
sparking 

like cranial mandalas on their skulls, 
they can eat beer and non-fat burgers in their 

white, Crete-like 
windows and cells, resorts overflowing with 
the green and blue of the gulf in colours thicker than o 
and they can bob through the rest of their lives as if 

bopping in buoyant waves 
circled in an innertube 

eyelids closed under gasoline-black sunglasses. 

Caitlin Berrigan 



120 



"Conching for Tourists" 



Gus Harrison had captained a conch boat on Marthas Vine- 
yard for 17 years, until the government banned the capture of conchs 
because they had become too rare. Gus and every other Island conch 
fisherman had to find a "more ecologically compatible" livelihood. 
A government brochure suggested "tourist industry entrepreneur- 
ship". Its author hadn't had the nerve to jump out and say "get a 
better job, say, selling shirts to the nice New York kids sitting in 
their parents' Land Cruisers." 

Gus didn't consider selling souvenirs or hiring himself out. 
He had never worked for anyone but himself and saw no reason to 
change now. 

He had thought about that and his mate from his second 
year of conching had come to his mind. The mate had been a col- 
j lege dropout from Boston who had taken it unto himself to educate 
iGus in Marxism. He had deliberately ignored most of it, but wage 
slavery had stuck in his mind, even though the kid had kept saying 
that Gus didn't understand what the term meant. Marx was right to 
describe most labor as wage slavery. Any job he could get himself 
hired into would be agonizingly bleak after conching. 

Gus thought about what he could do. It would involve tour- 
jists- there was no getting around that. Catering to tourists had had 
to be rationalized- once, he had stuck an "If You Don't Live Here, 
Go Home" bumper sticker on his boat's cabin. Tourists were fool- 
ish. But they also had money. 

The Marxist kid had called Gus and idealist. Gus decided, 
n the interest of his survival, to stop being one. Ideal things did not 
ixist. His ideal Island didn't have 100,000 people on it in summer. 
The actual Island he lived on did, though. He finally understood, 
Ivith necessity tramping up his back, that he couldn't control things 
ike tourists. He realized that his ideals were incompatible with real- 
ty, so he abandoned them. 

***** 



121 



Conching had been officially banned in January, and after- 
ward Gus had spent a month living aimlessly. The novelty of unem- 
ployment waned once doing nothing became routine. An idea struck 
him in late February. Preparations, interrupted sometimes by ghosts 
of his old ideals, occupied him until the opening day of his new 
venture. 

***** 

"Ride An Authentic Conch Boat. Experience A Piece Of 
Real New England" barely fit on the sign Gus leaned against a pil- 
ing. "New England" was squished, making the final "and" look like 
a combined d and m. His boat was the same as it always had been: 
crummy, fishy. It bobbed up and down next to the same pier it had 
for 17 years, a wharf in central Edgartown within throwing dis- 
tance of the Chappaquidick Ferry. Two other fishing boats were 
tied at either end of his. Gus was prepared for his new job, not that 
the preparations were many. 

***** 

"Christ, Gus, you're really doing this?" Doug Grayson tapped 
the Authentic Conch Boat sign. Doug had a tough time believing 
that Gus was going through with his plan. 

Gus, sarcastically: "I only got the passenger license because 
I felt like standing in line." He paused. "Yeah, I'm really doing it. 

"I still can't see you with tourists." 

"Get used to it. Next thing you know the government' 
ban lobster trapping and you'll be hawking T-shirts." 

"Not gonna happen. They president likes lobster." 
"You never know." 

"I know all right. The government wouldn't kick me off m 
job if lobsters started glowing purple in the dark." 

Gus pulled a Budweiser from the cooler beside him. 
"So you're going to put up with tourists?" Doug askec 



122 



"You're not going to push 'em off the boat when you're in the middle 
of the harbor or something, are you?" 

"I'm giving them rides, Doug." 

"I can see you as a guide. There's Edgartown light, and over 
there's Ernie Boch's house," he prodded Gus, "I used to think that 
place had so many windows that it was uglier than a conch, but for 
your benefit I'll say it's damn impressive. How 'bout that folks?" 

"Go stick your head in your lobster tank." 

"Don't take stuff so seriously..." Doug looked at the cabin. 
"What'd you do with that sticker?" 

"Which one?" 

"The tourist sticker." 

"I painted over it when I cleaned up the boat." 

"So I guess your first idea's been put off now." 

"The organization thing- you might say that." 

"Well, you aren't going to get all of us together to stop the 
tourist crap now." 

"You really thought I was doing that?" 

"I had this picture of you standing up on a crate and speak- 
ing like Jimmy Hoffa." 

Gus leaned back and laughed. He almost dropped his beer. 

Doug went on. "It's weird seeing you in the tourist busi- 
ness. Taking families around the Island on Authentic New England 
Conch Tours. You with all the principles." 

"I thought a lot about that, my principles. When you look 
at them, ideals are only as strong as your weekly check." Gus stopped 
for a second. "Let's just say if government assistance was a swim- 
ming pool, you'd break your neck diving in." 

"What you do's your own prerogative." 

"I like to look at it that way." 

"I'll see you later, Gus. Family hasn't seen me since I went to 
3ed last night." 

"Yeah, I'll see you. Got to get in early. Tomorrow's opening 

iay." 

"Yup." Doug turned and walked down the pier. "Oh yeah," 
: le snapped around and shouted, "You really think that visitors'll 



123 



want to ride a boat that still smells like conch guts?" 

"They like something outside the norm every once in a 

while." 

1 hats a good one. 

***** 

Next morning Gus got to his boat at 8:00. He set the sign 
up and stacked a pile of brochures on the gunwale then sat down in 
a lawn chair on the rear deck. Gus felt a little bit proud of his bro- 
chures. They were very professional looking, printed on glossy pa- j 
per, two pages words and one an Island map showing the routes of 
his tours. Charges- per passenger, child, family- and hours stood on j 
the back. Reaching out for exposure to as many customers as pos- j 
sible, copies were at stores and kiosks all over the Island,. He had all J 
the tourist places covered. 

Gus glanced at the raised spot in the paint where the bumper I 
sticker still was. The words were masked, he saw again, satisfied that j 
they were. G from "go home" was almost visible, but Gus thought I 
he could see it only because he knew the words underneath. 

He waited on his lawn chair until his first tourists arrived. A j 
man, forty maybe, wearing khaki shorts and an untucked Black j 
Dog T-shirt (with 1997 printed on the back- new Black Dog stufl I 
pointed him out as a tourist). He spotted the sign and told his fam- j 
ily to come with him. He asked Gus about the prices, then aboui 1 
whether he accepted American Express. Gus requested cash. Reluc j 
tantly the man produced $40 from his wallet. He and his famil)|, 
stepped into the boat- Gus noticed that the man's wife and daugh 
ter seemed less than thrilled to be boarding a boat that smelled likil, 
a fish market cutting board. 

As they pulled away from the dock, Gus heard the man I 
daughter complain: "This thing reeks of fish." 

"All fishing boats do," her father replied. 

"Maybe," his wife suggested, "we shouldn't be on one." 

Gus butted in: "How's your first time on the Island?" 

"How'd you know that we hadn't been here before?" tijl 



124 



man asked, surprised. 

"I looked at your shirt," Gus said. He faced away from the 
family, standing at the wheel while they sat towards the very back of 
the boat on a bench running around the deck where the conch nets 
had once been emptied. 

"Lots of people have Black Dogs." 

"Yeah, that's true. But only first-timers have the new ones." 
"I thought the Black Dog was popular on Marthas Vine- 
yard." 

"It is. With tourists." They didn't speak for a few minutes, 
and the only noise came from the motor and the splashing water. 
"It's probably a good idea if we introduce ourselves," Gus broke in, 
"We can speak a helluva lot easier that way." 

"I'm Brian Liefman." Still holding the wheel, Gus turned 
around halfway to shake hands. "Gus Harrison." 

His wife: "Alexandra." 

The daughter: "Margo." 

After another silence Brian Liefman lazily said, "This wmore 
realistic than a trip on that catamaran, you know." 

"What do you mean, realistic?" Margo asked 
confrontationally. 

"I mean, this is how real people on Martha's Vineyard live." 
Gus decided to keep his mouth shut. 

Margo Liefman laughed. "Real people on Martha's Vine- 
yard would be doing something better than driving tourists around 
ithe island in their boats." Both were quiet for a second, then Margo 
broke in, "Mr. Harrison, do you think there are too many tourists 
Dn Martha's Vineyard?" She said it as if she already knew the an- 
swer. Gus guessed that she had seen plenty of other bumper stickers 
ike his. 

He glanced down and the raised rectangle of paint, where 
lie could just barely pick out "go homes" G. "Not really," he said 
iiesitantly, "As long as they don't cause trouble they're okay." 

"Well I think there are way too many," she shot back. 

"That's strange to hear coming from a tourist." 

"I don't think so." 



125 



"It's hypocritical in a way." 
"I can have my opinions." 

"Well, let me tell you the one problem I have with tourists- 
the only one I really have with them. Every single tourist who gets 
off the ferry will tell you whole heartedly that the person getting off 
behind him will make the Island too crowded." His eyes never mov- 
ing from the G, Gus pointed out Oak Bluffs, which appeared from 
behind a jetty that had hidden it. 



Nathan Littlefield 



126 




Lisa Lake 



127 



The Fish Market 



frozen faces gape and admonish 
(me) 

half drooling, half repulsed 
at the sight of this 
brilliant palette of flesh. 

the lean beltfish shows its yellowed teeth 
(an empty threat), 

and the red snapper looks on reproachfully with its 
drunken eyes, 
only the headless mackeral 
is quite sure he is dead. 

Crabs - the main attraction of this freak show, 
Fighting for survival in a circular arena, 
still "alive" (cause we like em fresh) . 
a cruel paradox, 

the strongest are the first to die. 

frozen faces, 
all resigned to fate 
except for a lone crab 
who in grim determination 
climbs up the backs of the dying 
step by step, 
slipping and recovering 
he scuttles to the top, 
Only to be snatched by metal tongs, 
Only to slide to his death into the abyss of a browi 

paper bag. 
a very ordinary paper bag. 

Laura Oh 



128 



Laura Oh 
129~ 



"What was it like. . 



What was it like 
to first eat an orange, mouth 
a color, and a shape so full, 
dense. To feel it, throw it, 
to undress it. 

And some of them with blood inside, 
all of them with cells inside, 
pieces, parts, visibly of a whole; 

a smooth sour sore 
on the lower gum 
inside the mouth 
against the lip 
broken by teeth. 

And water, water by the sea 
salt separate and for the meat. 

In 1849 an orange 
in California was three 
dollars and a shirt. 



Kate Nesin 



130 



Education 



1. Love 

it was the year we first learned 
to spell "beautiful", falling down 

in the chase, lips smacking 
on the ground in a kiss tight 
as mother's purse clasp 

on the bus with a tooth-shattered face 
she says: "does it hurt?" 
I say: "it has heat; it comes and goes." 
she says: "in pangs?" 

in pangs. 

2. Math 

eighteen and one glass of wine 

at six in the evening over the stove fixing 

minute rice for one woman 

facing dubious weeks 

in the morning, maintenance, 

taking one multivitamin, two calcium, three vitamin 
C's 

in a month, I receive 

my numbers and a paragraph explaining 

"your verbal scores were higher than your math scores; 
therefore, your verbal ability 
is better than your math ability." 



131 



3. Words 



when he speaks he keeps 
his hand at his face constantly- 
covering his quivering 
cheek 

a tourniquet, perhaps, 
dealing in wounds, in words, 
writing 

wrong courageous drunk 

and Andover small engine, naming 

everything 
if only as a way to call it back: 

it was the voice speaking "leave," 
that left me looking 
for something to say, for anything 
I could save. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



Phillips I 



This place is made out of boys. 
The ground has teeth. The boulders 
have veins. The birch trees have skin 
flaking off. 

The dead here smell crisp, fresh, and wintery. 
Three years, this fact foxed me. I thought 
that this place had no ghosts, 
was all. 

Andover smiles in snow-melt crescents. 
It's hungry yet. 



Amy O'Neal 



133 



men and salt 



a tortoise shell is dry leather 
and I am, one 
for, the, 

oceans are salt at my lips and things. 

and shells are dry and salt 
so i must beone. i must be one 
i knew it through the grains, 
as the calm of it all can testify 
to the calm of it all, 

dry and salt and leather 
I must be one(i must b 1) 

the birds just wail sometimes, and 
I too, 

have wailed like birds- for they 
tell me all men are shells 
of men and salt 

You could string them up with twine 
to form a natural Bridge of sorts, 
if not to dance across the sea, 
on dry and leather shells. 



Erik Jun backer 



135 



In My Wake 



Does your ranting 

Pounding 

On doors, beds 

But mostly against your own limits 
Remind you of anything- 
Anyone? 

I walked ahead of you 
Images of me still do- 
Also stand behind you 
(goads, prods, heavy boots) 
Knocking you down 
Urging you on at the same time- 
This situation is becoming 
A cruel pincer. 

You obsess 

The strain chokes you. 
Moving forward 
A car in neutral 
Down the driveway- 
No driver. 

Though I hate admitting it 

You are becoming 

More and more like me. 

Given the choice 

I wouldn't take your position 

In my wake- 

I doubt I could survive in it. 



Nathan Littlefield 



136 



"louder still..." 



louder still 
than a piercing 
ricochet. 

needle rain 
sewing up cracks 
in the roof. 



Hillary Dresser 



137 



true theme 



i daydream in blueprint, 
and sometimes, 
just sometimes, 
all those lines can cut me. 
into a thousand starched-white 
walkers. 

uniforms of the walkers and the walkers themselves, 
landscaped, cross-sectioned, and 
the geometric absolute. 
I have grown to admire in starched-white 
to lose true theme 
in subtle reflective quality, 
and bounce back into blue 



Erik Jungbacker 



138 



Cool Faded Automobiles 



For all the efforts god 

youth runs a dry riverbed 

at the prick of day. 

one hour elapses into 

the beautiful things, 

that are not mouths, a canyon. 

of words and compliments. 

the same as the cool fading 

automobiles, a case of beer. 

I walked around in rubber shoes, 

meeting the cracked clay 

with a cracked smile and cracked shells. 

and cracked friends with cracked smiles. 

(you know the pattern they make 

is a street scene of sorts.) 

each avenue busy with buying and selling. 

...wearing things unto the day. 

like dirt into the carpeting 

through and through. 



Erik Jungbacker 



139 



The Auto and its Consequence 



You feel the beast squirm 
its mass through snow 
and like a dream you let it go 
and like your childhood tree you hold it 
hold it in your palms so plump and pained 
The lights cut fog and 
the world is smoke- 
exhalations from the bruised concrete, 
steam from the hot yellow streaks 
smeared between the trees. 
The world is smoke 
and you stare hard at the 
devilish red pairs 
you stare hard at angelic eyes. 
The dent in the passenger side 
hurts your kidneys when you see it 
The drool down the windows 
you swear corrodes your shirt 
the high hard hills hurt 

There's a new gas station in Cross Village 
where before was tawny space 
beside a general store and church 
There's a view from Angel Hill Farm 
where there are culdesacs cut into the field 
grey snakes in wait to mate with wheels 



To hit the suburbs is to die 

to suffocate in your auto 

to scoot between strip malls 

to charge a gauntlet of cheap culture 

you start and skid and stop and park 

and spit, restart, cough back on the freeway- 

And you're conquered 

140 



I 



you're stuck in a cancerous intestine 
ten feet from you in four directions 
are hot souls coughing 
between you there is plastic, 
leather, metal, glass and 
dead air 

The midwestern grey sky 
humps the bleak stone road 

They're setting up orange spikes 

and puking up cement, 

ingniting fiery signs and white lines 

They take a giant waffle iron 

and burn a grid into the sand 

They're building huts and malls and lots 

They're building a giant pole barn 

A world built for autos 

A landscape of neon shoebox toilets 

We need a bubble around our hearts 

and our bodies aren't big enough 

We need fiery red engines 

puffing, pushing us and our metal cells 

We need to cover every inch of breathing earth 

We need to move 



Will Glass 



141 



a room reserved for architecture 



was it the question of 

the clean and the dirty... 

and the way some puddles 

can just bend you into perfection. 

your image is nothing but 
factory birds. 

but yes, I'd say clean is the way to go. 

most people are infected with the thing . 

everything is how it should, 

even the sot on walls is not sot 

but an age of sorts. 

and passing these rites through the 

crowds is more than just the runaway thing. 

it clots inside everyone and clots and clots. 

in a room reserved for architecture. 

the awful violin was shrill, 

and a turk. 

so we had to leave, we had to leave 
over all the frozen puddles, 
gliding through the mirrors. 



Erik Jungbacker 

4t> 



142 



CO 

O 

3 

a 

u 
O 



craig thorn 
caitlin berrigan 
christina richardson 
jan smejkal 
anthony morales 
yaqub prowell 
caitlin mulhern 
ariel lambe 
zack waldman 
will glass 

Caroline whitbeck 
mary ziegler 
jasmine mitchell 
max young 
kate zangrilli 
carl dietz 
lisa lake 

erik jungbacker 
charlie finch 
kate nesin 
kirn pope 
hillary dresser 
shivani reddy 
michael chagnon 
mimi tseng 
debbie schwartz 
matt o'brien 
dan sullivan 
patrick morrissey 
dan addison 
ann lin 
amy o'neal 
julia galaburda 
nathan littlefield 
laura oh 
Susannah parker 



Verging 

A Collection of Poetry 

By Caroline Whitbeck 




A Courant Chapbook 
Edited by Caidin Berrigan and Mary Ziegler 



Verging 

A Collection of Poetry 

By Caroline Whitbeck 



A Courant Chapbook 
Edited by Caidin Berrigan and Mary Ziegler 



This chapbook is a cousin of Phillips Academy's literary magazine 
Courant.' Each chapbook is a collection of the works of a single 
who has distinguished him or herself in 'The Courant.' The e 
have chosen among the writer's published and previously unpub 
pieces and arranged them in such a way that the artist's writing ( 
seen as a whole composition, as a body. 

Cover art: 

Tour Walls' 

Gelatin silver-print by Caroline Whitbeck 



This book is dedicated to my 
grandmother, Helen Oechler. 



Table of Contents 

-Introductions by Mary Ziegler and Caitlin Berrigan 

-Verging 

-Four Walls 

-Education 

-Poem 

-Love Songs 

-With and Without 

-Temporary 

-Possession 

-Fallout, Shelter, Suture 



roduction 

Mary Ziegler 



Caroline Whitbeck is almost a seamstress, weaving together her 
ti experiences and the experiences of someone each of us knows — or 
: Id be ourselves — to form a fabric that is undeniably human. When 
ad Caroline's poetry, there are times when I stop reading, silent and 
! wonder at how her words could have exposed an emotion I had felt 
opening the door to her own experiences just enough for me to see 
>ie of my own experiences in them. Her poetry can be artfully quiet, 
ting you to exhale and respond to each image, or it can be raw and 
eniable, leading a breathless reader from image to image until, it 
;hes an unforgettable conclusion, leaving the reader unable to wake 
ci the ideas of the poem for a time. 

Caroline can mock her subject, as she does in 'Poem,' or lend a 
j sympathy to what is being said. In fact, as I finished her poems, it 
a in quiet exhaustion at having seen such a display of her range of 
= ig and expression. Her chapbook is titled Verging, and there is no 
)t in my mind as a writer or as a person that she is an unforgettable 
• :r, still verging on becoming greater than she was before. 



Introduction 

by Caitlin Berrigan 



Caroline Whitbeck is the Mother Theresa of wit. There n 
limit to her brilliant, bruised axioms and the striking metaphor 1 
nonchalantly dusts into casual conversation. Sometimes I wish I ( J 
have a miniature Caroline I could take with me anywhere and J 
play when I wanted a banquet of wry whimsy to make my literary sfa 
ach swell. But the closest we can get to distilling Caroline is throJ 
collection of her poetry; to take just a couple of smoothed tile;|n 
titanic mosaic. 

Each poem Caroline writes is like a grenade of insight, 2M 
plosion, a popcorn popper of lyricism. Listening to or reading cm 
her poems leaves shrapnel in your heart. Caroline says she wM 
reaction from her poetry. She wants her poems to make you say, 'U 
know that story too." And no matter how many times that stoijn 
appeared, dressed in different suits in her life — in all of our li 
Caroline is able to boldly and acutely extract the marrow to aril 
quent, marvelously simple, and sometimes acerbic form we dojl 
ways see ourselves. By writing primarily autobiographically in thi w 
Caroline has made herself a sage with an extraordinarily expil 
tongue, and the power to send goose bumps up our limbs andji 
epiphanies in our brains. 

Her use of rhythm, visual space, and emphasis on specific M 
or phrases is vital to the poem. Each piece is crafted meticulously j 
it combusts with the spontaneity and rawness with which it w;|fj 
Her repetition of sounds and phrases can pull us into a cycle-like 4 
tation. Her repetition of Astrid in 'Poem puts a floor to the piece, gi jfl 
and solidifies the woman's symbolism. Similarly, "...because I ami 
see/ I am done, I am done, I am done,/ I am done with it" in 'li 
sion winds us down with an iron fist that no single statement 4 
achieve with the same vigor and pulse. The sound of "the sun, tl 1 
and so on..." in 'Fallout, Shelter, Suture dizzies and intoxicates l i 
ing us around to meet the ending with weaker defenses. A con li 
sound and effect is given in 'Poem : "...tales of the menus/ tales Jj 
men..." almost extending the image of "menus of men," while M 
ing faithful to each subject and meaning. 



Her images are keenly defined, prismatic, and often surreal con- 
ctions you can almost run your hands over. "Your mother, leaning 
your life like a cat" and "...the commuter rail/ rattles you gray/ as a 
in 'Four Walls' and "Astrid w/ red begonias" in 'Poem' are such 
sive images. "...A hat rack gliding through the air..." in 'Verging' is 
:he brink of absurdity with its surrealistic humour, but makes its 
it in a surprisingly poignant way. And there is no end to her simple, 
etal lines that hold truth as strong as gospel, as in 'Fallout, Shelter, 
ire': "...thread is/ stronger/ than both of us." 

I have deliberately avoided describing Caroline Whitbeck's work 
fusion of famous poets' styles because her fashion of creation would 
\ be limited; like trying to describe what an American looks like in 
I adjectives. Each poem is like "a flare! a flash! / each a greater blast 
I the last." 



Verging 



my passage 

is that of a hat rack 
gliding through the air 

that somehow hopes 
to go unnoticed. 



Four Walls 



1 . I'm sick of searching 
for what you've lost 

always finding it 
in the 

"goddamn! breadbox!" 

voices echo in the kitchen 
clash in static 
the radio mutters 
in distraction 

coming home 
the commuter rail 
rattles you gray 
as a fist. 

2. you think of 
paper 

envy it's smooth brow 
white as the sky, but 
windless 

you want to write a list 
of your grievances: 

your mother, leaning into your life like a cat 
your daughter, behind closed doors 
your husband, forgets 
your father, a void 

the sign in Trenton that said "the world takes." 



turn on the faucet and 
the pipes ring and knock 
throughout the house like 
a blind pinball machine: 

he kicks you in his sleep. 

rhinoceroid, cyclopic, lopsided 
stumbling forward 
all thumbs 
your body turns 
against you 

you still have the scar 

he still "finds you attractive." 

and standing 

at the bedposts 

in your housecoat, you 

want to kick too 

scald and blister 

rush, 

still red: 

demanding to know why you 
were the one 
standing at the sink 

when the water 
spurted out too 
hot and too 
fast. 



Education 



1. Love 

it was the year we first learned 
to spell "beautiful", falling down 

in the chase, lips smacking 
on the ground in a kiss tight 
as mother's purse clasp 

on the bus with a tooth-shattered face 
she says: "does it hurt?" 
I say: "it has heat; it comes and goes." 
she says: "in pangs?" 

in pangs. 



2. Math 

eighteen and one glass of wine 

at six in the evening over the stove fixing 

minute rice for one woman 

facing dubious weeks 

in the morning, maintenance, 

taking one multivitamin, two calcium, three vitamin C's 

in a month, I receive 

my numbers and a paragraph explaining 

"your verbal scores were higher than your math scores; 
therefore, your verbal ability 
is better than your math ability." 



3. Words 



when he speaks he keeps 
his hand at his face constantly 
covering his quivering 
cheek 

a tourniquet, perhaps, 
dealing in wounds, in words, 
writing 

wrong courageous drunk 

and Andover small engine, naming everythi 

if only as a way to call it back: 

it was the voice speaking "leave," 
that left me looking 
for something to say, for anything 
I could save. 



Poem 



50 cents, 

you write about Astrid 
you, gray 
in your robe, blue 
you write about Astrid 

or a cat's tail, anything 

over newsprint and toast crumbs 

smug in your 
breakfasty nook you 
write about Astrid in the 
cosmos, the coffee cup 

yes, you are aging and 
Astrid is 
red-lipped and 

you are writing to Astrid 
for Astrid has 
hatboxes 
stuffed with old 
paper, 

old closets and 

windowboxes: "Astrid 
w/ red begonias." 

Astrid 

smoldering in 
your garage with 
black and chrome 
cars 



"O Astrid" 
cooks a brown egg 
lacquers her fingernails 
lives in New York 
as do you 

Astrid, 

tales of the menus 
tales of the men and 
of the grease 

(All of Astrid's 
friends are Franks 
and Jacks, they wear 
blue pants, send 
postcards) 

you wonder at 
Astrid, at 
cherrystones, 
the insides of her 
mouth, 

at skeins of red wool 
at her stocking-clad 
legs 

(her calves pumping 
blood and heels: 
brackish, seaworthy legs) 

smoking 

cigarettes in fast cars 
cigarettes at the breakfast table 



mannequin, Astrid 
muse, Astrid: 
a plastic brow 
that learned to sweat 

and you 

those tremored hands 

"O the vein 

and liver-spotted!" 

and 

fruit heavy as 
plums, that dusky 
rot and bruising skin 
bruising in, you 
that sweat and age 
all flannel-kneed 
pajamas, 

grasping brown life 
from every gray hair: 

longing at last 
for the red 
ripe lips 



for a kiss. 



With and Without 



one left me without words 

two pupils staring back 
shouting against another's face 

rehearsed 

I strike out, hip slung 

poses of anger and love 

catch my hands up in my skirt 

I touched him once, twice — 
and reaching for what... 

those things slight, the patience 

of religion, of a river 

above or below skin, yes, in search 

of its source 

without love, this one 
is used to the weight of my arm 
he turns for me as he must 
as it is written 

one left me without words 
carrying his mouth away from mine 

(it was the clock blinking innocently 
in all that is past 

it was the phone call and 
the buzzing along the line 
that came in between...) 



it is a brutal thing, the space 
where anything once was 

voiceless, innumerable, waking 

into a new, 

unfamiliar room, not knowing 
the shape of the furniture or 
where the windows are 

waking you 

with light you are not accustomed 



Possession 



It wasn't mine so I gave it to you 

you can do what you want with it, you, it 

wasn't mine, I gave it to you, to you 

comes by then sometimes at night 

or calls, brings the construction crews 

and promises, he says he needs measurements, he 

opens my shirt, the cabinets, saying 

different now, picture this in blue, 

and we do it on the floorboards 

It wasn't mine but she took it home and unwrapped 
it, left it on her bathroom ledge, filled the whole 
thing with steam while she soaked and outside New 
York was newsprint and didn't smell like roses, but she 
did, so I gave it to her, to her, it wasn't mine, it wasn't 

comes back with shoes that talk HA HA 
across the floor at me pulling up the boards 
and when I wake I see he has exposed 
the moldings, mouldering, my left breast 
and there's a man I dunno with a drill on 
my back stroking fluid in again and calling me 
"honey" (as if he didn't know my name...) 

I said it wasn't mine but the police didn't believe it, 

all written up in the newspapers, and they brought 

dogs and a stumped lady with the search warrant to kno 

my bathroom door, but no, I'm soaking with 

the roses, leaving for New York, and she dunno where 

I've left the toenail polish, but I won't let her 

touch it, she rots, she tells them it was mine, and they 

believe her, bring dogs, dogs into the house, I want to k 

her out, out the dog door, but we don't have one, we do 



tries to apologize, he brings bandages 

and a pair of pliers, printing embalmed footsteps 

(no shoes! HA HA!) across my floor (all 

gone! HA HA!) where I am standing on nothing now, 

there's nothing now, and I would 

say "bleeding quietly" the way they always say 

about fish (is it?) and other dumb animals, and 

he is rubbing my back with something, but that 

must not be good for my skin (no... no) see, that's 

not my skin anymore, see, I have become 

something entirely different, become something, 

become something entirely different 

than when you began me 

When you find it, please pick it up, because 

someone must have lost it, must 

wonder where it is, want it back (maybe), just 

don't give it to me, I don't want it and it 

really isn't mine, I promise, and besides 

it cries at night, wants me to rub its back 

and give it hugs and love and care about its 

feelings and its health and no I can't stand it, I 

simply can't stand it, I hate it, I threw it 

out into the street, and it's yours now, if 

you want it, and you must, you must have it, must 

take it, see, take it with you, because I am done, see 

I am done, I am done, I am done, 

I am done with it. 



Fallout, Shelter, Suture 



1 . "chernobyl?" 
"no, chamomile." 

2. he says: "honey, I'm breaking boundaries." 
he says: "honey, I'm at the window." 

(beat) 

"are you there?" he said 
"where?" I said 

"the bottom of the fishbowl?" he said 
"there's nothing." 

touching me now 

fingertips 

fishy-mouthed 

(beat) 

"bend for me." 
"I do not bend." 
I do not bend 

restless, indifferent 
stiff as trees 

toes, 

interlocking branches 
but 

splinterless 
I do not split 
I do not bend 



branches bend 
but 

glass 

breaks. 

3. you 
wash, wrists 
at the sink 

slip in the water 
clean the wound 

glass is 

clear as water and 

cool to 

the touch 

as white linen 

gloves, gauze. 

(beat) 

"I do not bend; I break." 
"splinters? splashes." 

I'm at the window- 
-pane, 
glass gone 
nothing 

but wood 
remains. 

4. "kisses? what of care and kindness?" 
he is cut, wet red 

I cannot stand this mess 



thread is 
stronger 

than both of us. 

(beat) 

I sew, 

his hand in mine, a vow. 

the stitch, 

the wound is 

warm to the touch — 

touching him. 

(beat) 

a domestic 
clutter in the kitchen 
a dish, rag 
a curtain 

I steep, I sip 
old tea, old 
roots, 

growing towards 
the light: 

the kitchen fluorescent, 
the sun, the son, 
and so on: 

(beat) 

a flare! a flash! 

each a greater blast 
than the last. 



All Poems© 1997 
Caroline Whitbeck 



Spring Term 1997 
Volume MCMLXXXXVII, Number K 




The Courant 



The Courant Editors 



Editors-in-Chief 
Kate Zangrilli 
Kate Nesin 



Senior Poetry Editor 


Chief Fiction Editor 


Charlie rinch 


Rieron ritzgerald 


Poetry Editors 


Fiction Editors 


Christina Richardson 


Yaqub Prowell 


Will Glass 


Nathan Littlefield 


Katherine Gilbert 


Eva Lane 


Caitlin Mulhern 


Eve Mayer 


Managing Editor 


Til t— < 1 • 

Photo Editor 


Rachel Rotman 


Ariel Lambe 


Art Editor 


Chapbook Editors 


Laura Oh 


Caitlin Berrigan 




Mary Ziegler 


Submissions 


Publicity 


Karen Lam 


Shaina Jones 


Promotion 


Distribution 


Sara Bright 


Faren Krentcil 



Layout & Design 
Alex Ramp ell 



Volume V, Number 2 



Faculty Advisor 
Craig Thorn IV 



Spring Term, 1997 



Contents 

/✓""I r\| 1 T 1* HP* \ 

^over 1 noto by Julia liernen; 


Introduction: English is Patient 

Craig Thorn 


8 


Seaching for What Was In 
Anthony Morales 


My Face 


17 


<Illustration> 
Ariel Lambe 




20 


Elegy to Allen Ginsberg 

Caitlin Berrigan 




21 


<Illustration> 

Sarah Josselyn 




22 


Shadow Sequestration 
Matt O'Brien 




23 


Requiem Imagery 

Kate Zangrilli 




25 


Comissioned 
Amy O'Neil 




26 


We Defy Augury 
Katherine Gilbert 




27 


Understanding 

Christina Richardson 




30 


hard open surface 
Zack Waldman 




31 



2 



<Illustration> 

Katharine Smyth 



32 



Revelations 33 
Nathan Littlefield 

Checking In 39 
Mary Ziegler 

A Kids Outline of a Body 42 
Nathan Littlefield 

American Spirit 44 
Caitlin Mulhern 

<Illustration> 45 
Lisa Hsu 

; Ferry and Me 46 
Graham Norwood 

i 

jlet the good lord do the driving 59 
£W£ Jungbacker 

;<Illustration> 60 
Katharine Smyth 

Weaver Voodoo Sabotage 61 
Angus Dwyer 



<Illustration> 69 
Ashley Milne 

^Philadelphia, 1832" 70 
Amy ONeil 



3 



Junk Information 

Kate Zangrilli 

Possession 
Caroline Whitbeck 

Nonliteral Death 
Lisa Hsu 

<Illustration> 

Emily Ingram 

Fragment of Epic 
Amy O'Neil 

Pierette II 

Kate Nesin 

<Illustration> 
Miriam Berger 

To Conjugate 
Anne Bourneuf 

The Girl in Black Trousers II 
Kate Nesin 

Other Things 

Charlie Finch 

<Illustration> 

Heather Smith 



Salmon Pink 

Caitlin Mulhern 



<Illustration> 
Mimi Tseng 


95 


A Dream That the House is Haunted 
Kate Nesin 


96 


The Humble Adventure or Naivete 
Caitlin Berrigan 


97 


<Illustration> 

Katharine Smyth 


98 


Storms 

Charlie Finch 


99 


<Illustration> 

Ashley Milne 


100 


Rest my dear city 
Anthony Morales 


101 


Logo Fancy 
Anthony Morales 


103 


St. Brighid s Day 
Kate Nesin 


105 


\rmwrestling Jesus 
Mary Ziegler 


106 


ghostlier Demarcations, Keener Sounds 
Catherine Gilbert 


110 


Illustration> 

ulia Tiernen 


112 



You Said It Was About Music 


113 


Anne Bourneuf 




Hearing Things 


114 


Will Glass 




The Search for Truth 


116 


Justin Fay 




composing wrong notes 




117 


Z7 '/ T 1 1 

brik Jungbacker 




My Ancestors 


118 


Lhristina Richardson 




Unbroken Pride: Michaelangelos David Revisited 


119 


Laura Uh 




Dream 


120 


Lhristina Richardson 




<Illustration> 


121 


Miriam Berger 




The Finishing School 


122 


s~*l * j. * n • / J 

Lhristina Richardson 




The Fall 


123 


Laitlin Berrigan 




<Illustration> 


124 






Night Knelt 


125 


Mary Aiegler 




r% "W ^ 



<Illustration> 

Melissa Bramowitz 



128 



T T 1 J 

Untouched 


1 to 

129 


Kate Zatiprilli 




You re too picky 


130 


T jest Fisti 




These Locusts by Day 


131 


Lharlte binch 




Nietszche Picking His Nuts While Waiting For The 




Manhattan bound A Irain 


132 


Yacjub Prowell 




In the End 


138 


Caroline Whitbeck 





Introduction: English is Patient 

In The Courant , one finds many ways to say a thing. Con- 
sider a man in his garden in Matt O'Brien's "...We must go and 
work in the garden...": 

A spectacled gardener 
clad in proletarian blue 
digs in the darkness 
hands worn by the burden of 
lost opulence. 
His weary eyes, 
accustomed to the night, 
long not for vanished glories. 
Only the flowers await 
the splendor of sunset 
that knowing ex-emperors 
can call revenge. 

Or Anthony Morales' man in a garden: 

The brown soul of the island 

slaves en el campo 

day after day 

sunrise to sunset 

he tends to the field 

making it his life 

His pain is shown 

by the 9 platano fingers 

of his soft rock hands 

and the rivers 

carved along his face 

providing channels 

for the bodies of sweat 

He never washes away 

the stain and the pain 

of the past 506 years 

on his sparse attire 

trigueno skin and tattered soul 

There are different ways to say "Andover" in The Courant. This l 
what Amy O'Neal says in "Phillips I": 



8 



This place is made out of boys. 
The ground has teeth. The boulders 
have veins. The birch trees have skin 
flaking off. 

The dead here smell crisp, fresh, and wintery. 
Three years, this fact foxed me. I thought 
that this place had no ghosts, 
was all. 

Andover smiles in snow-melt crescents. 
It's hungry yet. 

Caroline Whitbeck says "Andover" differently in the third section 
of her poem "Education," entitled Words: 

when he speaks he keeps 
his hand at his face constantly 
covering his quivering 
cheek 

a tourniquet, perhaps, 
dealing in wounds, in words, 
writing 

wrong courageous drunk 
and Andover small engine, naming 

everything 
if only as a way to call it back: 

it was the voice speaking "leave, " 
that left me looking 
for something to say, for anything 
I could save. 

O'Neal's poem, there are at least three levels of language that 
me from somewhere beyond the confines of the printed word on 
e page. What does it mean to be foxed by fact? There is an idea 
ere. And what is a snow-melt crescent? There is an image there. Is 
e fox an emblem of the place as a boy who steals stealthily? Is the 
scent an image of those lips of snow bending over the tops of 
ildings like white tongues? And when we hear "was all," is that 
e voice of a young girl apologizing for not knowing better? Is any 
this right and does it really matter if one thoroughly enjoys the 
pie event of something said in an utterly original way? In Mo- 



rales' poem, there are levels of language too. There is a story beyond 
the fact of the print on the page. The man might be the land itself. 
He may be working that land, as that work works him. And then 
there is the excitement of another language altogether in the poem 
that invites the reader because there is enough elsewhere to tease us 
into translations literal. What is el campo? It turns up in another 
poem by Morales in The Courant : 

Tu sabe quien es Albizu Camp o... Libert ad o Muerte... 

America es un grupo 
de maricones... Viva Puerto Rico y la revolucion 
It shakes Ant because 
finally the truth had been told 

In "Searching for What Was in My Face," Morales follows Ant as h 
"hunts for his prey/an idea for the poem." Reading "Don Jibaro 
first helps us to understand what it might mean to search for some 
thing that is in your own face. In effect, Morales' poetry com 
from a source that lies in a world of experience, not borrowed refer 
ences. There is a whole world of language in his heart. We're seein 
a little part of it. In some sense "Searching" is a statement about 
what is poetry, what is poetic language. After hearing the truth, Ant 
walks right past what for many fine young poets and fiction writers 
in The Courant would have been material for poetry: 

He makes his way up the stairs 
and doesnt stop to notice the customaries 
the hieroglyphics on the wall 
the pile of baby ca ca on the 2nd floor 
the young couple that makes out on the 5th floor 
(he heard that she's due soon) 
the burnt hallway of the 6th floor 
and now finally the sweet smell of the rice and peas 
quietly sitting in the pot 
Abuelita greets him at the door 
and the journey is over for the idea 
The poem wrote itself 

Morales defines for himself a rigorous discipline. Ant walks through 
a pretty tough world to get to the sweet smell of peas and rice. 
Indeed, he passes our Jibaro: 



Where are the gardens of John Adams 
He reaches abuelita's projects 
for his arroz con gandules 

10 



In the lobby 

the jibaros eyes call him 

to hear his lamentos 

His eyes contained the sadness 

of a whipped dog and 

his wrinkled skin and thick fingers 

revealed many days en el campo 

So we know Ant will return to Jibaro later, as he will no doubt to 
other events he has to listen to and witness on the way to walking 
out this poem. Interestingly, it is a smell that evokes the idea that 
becomes this poem, a sweet smell that represents a stable force in 
the "projects" that "gardens" have become. In "Searching," then, 
Ant maps out the very, very difficult terrain that defines what will 
be a complex field of vision, the music of salsa and meringue over- 
whelmed by the "quiet hustler's piece/ that Big Willies kick in a fiends 
ear : 

Whatchu want kid? 
Blue caps red caps 
Just as solid as my naps 
Nickel dime 

Guaranteed to fuck you up in time 
Snow blow 

What you wanna know 

Yeah I got some crack 

5-0 coming betta watch yo'back 

The brilliance of Morales' original vision is that he hears all and sees 
all even as Ant feels compelled to resist so much. As difficult as the 
quest is, Ant is making it because Morales' controls half a dozen 
anguages here: Spanish, what we call proper English, the tempting 
nusic of street corners, the formality of poetic conventions, plain 
;peech, and an over-arching historical voice that commands all, even 
:ounsels the poet in the end. In other words, Morales speaks as a 
>oet. He represents the particular inventiveness of Volume V, Num- 
ber 1. 

Zach Waldman and Willie Glass are explicitly concerned 
vith language as music, a subject in and of itself. In "Microwave 
inner for the cold black sinner...," Waldman rattles off a long list 
f broken-up phrases: 

microwave dinner for the cold black sinner 
and the dress is worn, my legs not warm 



11 



styrofoam box on the greengrass lawn 
hepcat dawn and my mind is gone 
and help the poor boy whos lost his shoes 
help that urchin sing his blues 

the big dog cries cause his master died 
save the baby, the gorilla cried 

"It wasn't the smart slang of todays youth, but the polite 
family talk of my childhood. " 

This is language as cut-up in the spirit of Burroughs and Ferlinghetti 
It is a vision of normal family life as shattered crystal yase on thi 
nice hardwood floor. Willie finds another way to bend language 11 
"Listening to the Music I've Made": 

Well I'm hearing myself think- 
and describing it in verse 
is like trying to make your 
children breed 
It's like tattooing a supple 
heart on your own forehead- 
the perversity kills me 

I think I know what occasions this poem. Willie and others tape, 
their performance during the battle of the bands. I dont think tha 
listening to it was a life-changing experience for Willie since he i 
always making music. His bongos are next to his bed, his stere 
above his head, and his roommate is Domenic Cimino. And tni 
poem doesn't attempt a dramatic expository point about listenin 
to your own music. Rather, it is simply his wrestling his relation 
ship to music into language and in that effort finding meaning 
much like Ant's walk through troubling music to a sweet smell. 

The re-incarnation of language is not confined to poetry i 
The Courant . Listen to Mary Ziegler's description of a boy at tnj 
base of a ladder: 

She opened her eyes just in time to make it down the rusty 
ladder and there in a heap at the bottom was a boy His 
knees were praying with the ladder rail and had the most 
admirable grass stains she'd ever seen. His head was in his 
hands and all she could see were the beams of hair coming 
through his fingers. She reached for his hand to see his eyes. , 



Read the rest of the story and the layers of language here make a 
ladder all their own because you figure out definitions in a glossary 
of shifting words. Ziegler has three stories in The Courant . The 
reader sees pretty quickly that they are figures on a theme. 

Kate Zangrilli plunges you headlong into the weird language 
of Ruth who speaks in brown rivers and wheat: 

The dead fish frothed at the lips, saying in the house of man, in 
the house of man. I followed the origin of their sounds: his words 
rough-edged and homespun, bred on buttermilk, then her 
honeysong: the shovel-nosed woman must have had a magpie 
in her chest. From the bathroom, a leap-to, up-running scream 
shattered: smoke on the water. I banged to the floorboards, 
through the often door seeing her head growing out ofTheos 
back below his ear. 

This is a story about a woman who comes to see her dying mother 
and contends with all kinds of ghosts in the house. It is stream-of- 
consciousness narrative that demands a near complete surrender on 
the part of the reader. The language is so deep in itself as to frighten 
|even those who speak it. In fact, the language has more life than the 
people who tussle with it as best they can. Writing helps us write; 
speaking helps us speak. Both help us see anew. 

And so in "Cool Faded Automobiles," Erikjungbacker finds 
way to see a car: 

For all the efforts god 
youth runs a dry riverbed 
at the prick of day. 
one hour elapses into 
the beautiful things, 
that are not mouths, a canyon, 
of words and compliments, 
the same as the cool fading 
automobiles, a case of beer. 

he "wearing things unto the day" that Jungbacker describes in- 
arms his aggressive artistry, the jarring punctuation the direct as- 
nult on words that issue from a notion of time that seems to wear 
l~autiful things down, the surfaces man and god make. 

And Willie Glass finds another way to see a car, as a vehicle 
a more explicit kind of wearing down: 



13 



They're setting up orange spikes 
and puking up cement, 
igniting fiery signs and white lines 
They take a giant waffle iron 
and burn a grid into the sand 
They're building huts and malls and lots 
They're building a giant pole barn 
A world built for autos 
A landscape of neon shoebox toilets 

We need a bubble around our hearts 
and our bodies aren't big enough 
We need fiery red engines 
puffing, pushing us and our metal cells 
We need to cover every inch of breathing earth 
We need to move 

The car as beast that propels us into a suburbanized wasteland popu 
lated by strip malls and "cul de sacs cut into the field/grey snakes ii 
wait to mate with wheels" insidiously becomes our second skin, ou 
"metal cells." 

Language, then, discovers meaning, bends to it, invents i 
as it names it, and in The Courant eats itself up in a frenzy of allu 
sion and counter-allusion as in Caroline Whitbeck's "Love in a Panic 
or Charlie Finch's "The Remains." One poem is as high-wired a 
Anne Sexton. The other as urbane as James Merrill. They're bot 
love poems. Whitbeck's love takes this shape in language: 

and when you sprayed to a stop, 
I had to coop and kiss 
all your darkened underclothes, 
that beat breast warmth 
of pectorals where once we kept a keel and flew 
or a great slippery heart like a peach pit 

so dark, dank and dark, rank 
armpitted the lost salt where the sea 
goes to break or to die, intertidal 
with a crab or a scallop lopped upon the crag rocks — 
nipple rooks, two crows who stoop and stare — beady 

toweling then after his breath 
the lace it pulls, the sprays of old flowers 

^ 14 



it puffs and doilies in the air — an old ladys 
bedroom Jesus dust ruffle 



The ocean churns through this language like an awesome and awe- 
inspiring life force that the speaker resists and studies as the actual 
subject emerges from it, a boy, and the real subject emerges from 
him, "a tight gape like a star,/a pull or a pole hotwired like a tree or 
a lamppost." 

Finch's love takes this shape in language after acknowledg- 
ing an elusive consummation, romanticism in a modernist's guise. 
He settles (as he always does) into a confession: 

This is what we come to, in the end. 
Disjointed As and Hs. Correspondence 
without correspondent, iron without ochroid, 
summer without lightning, 13th without December. 
I will be happy with reciprocity. 
The woods are lovely-dark and deep- 
indeed, paradigm of common experience. 

The adumbration of the lights at Christmas, 
a glittering necklace, the glittering prizes, not 
that Rafael had intended. Finally, her 
they lie, the remains of the old life, the 
other world, where it was you and I and 
Rostropovich and that, as you said was art- 
why didnt I quit but again, there we were 
a row of nickels, Duffell, Veyne, Lowell, 
Hopkins, Lowell, Forster, Wodehouse, Austen, 
the swirling winds, swirling sounds. 
L never thought I could be as strong as this. 
Lt is all for you. These rocks, waters, seas. 
Again, finally, always, we lie, in last sun, 
immortal, for the final arrival, and our knuckles white. 
A line of our own, piercing 
Florence, a dream of patterns 
across the sky again for you, one more time for you. 

nch allies himself with poets because their words are the compan- 
ls with which he will find correspondence in lieu of the you who 
never be fully manifest in an Other. For this speaker, language 
[an adumbration of lights at Christmas, but it is also the lover 
Lose words can put out grass and flowers "despite the falling snow." 
his recognition of language as "piercing Florence," in effect briefly 

15 



having at the old world, Finch is like the poet of a "Double Drear 
of Spring," John Ashberry. That poet tells us that language is all th 
invention we'll have in this life. 

And what do Jibaro's words mean in the lobby of the project 
What is the literal translation? Well, look it up, but remember th; 
language is fluid in Morales' invention and the truth may not b 
just in the words themselves. The Smitty Prize goes to Anthon 
Morales for his poem "Searching for What Was In My Face." 



Craig Thorn 



Seaching for What Was In My Face 



The writer hunts for his prey 
an idea for the poem 
Frustrated with writer's block 
Ant-boogie hits the streets 
searching for a thought 

He walks through 

he concrete suburb 

and first comes to a bodega 

he center of many previous ideas 

Maybe an ice cold Malta will be the remedy 

Ant goes to the back of the bodega 

peruses the Alpo and Goya product 

aisle to find his salvation 

but when he cracks open the chest 

he discovers no Malta Goya or Vitarroz 

that would stimulate his mind 

Even more frustrated 
he starts to walk 
forever it seems 
towards his abuelita's house 
which is in C&C territory 
On his way 

he passes by similar street corners 
and hears la musica del Bronx 

lively salsa and merengue beats 

being blasted from La Mega 

mixed with the hardest hip-hop from 

Hot 97 

fused with the classic soul of Kiss 
All of which can't compete 
with a quiet hustler's piece 
that Big Willies kick in a fiend's ear 



17 



on every corner 

What'chu want kid? 
Blue caps red caps 
Just as solid as my naps 
Nickel dime 

Guaranteed to fuck you up in time 
Snow blow 

What you wanna know 

Yeah I got some crack 

5-0 coming betta watch yo'back 

All Ant wants is his abuelitas 
arroz con gandules for his idea 
not these hoes 
disadvantaged youth 
offering things that even 
Big Ant wants to reject 
for prices he can't refuse 
He recognizes the stringy one 
in the pom-pom shorts 
and dirty halter top 
She was in his homeroom 
Her eyes carry a lot of luggage 
and many tear riddened nights 
Danm Ant says 

as he hears the rattle of the #2 train above him 

Where are the gardens of John Adams 

He reaches abuelitas projects 

for his arroz con gandules 

In the lobby 

the jibaro's eyes call him 

to hear his lamentos 

His eyes contained the sadness 

of a whipped dog and 

his wrinkled skin and thick fingers 

revealed many days en el campo 



T8 



Jibaro grumbles some Spanish 
unknown to Ant 

Tu sabe quien es Albizu Campo... Libertad o Muerte. . . 

America es un grupo 
de maricones... Viva Puerto Rico y la revolucion 
It shakes Ant because 
finally the truth had been told 

He makes his way up the stairs 

and doesn't stop to notice the customaries 

the hieroglyphics on the wall 

the pile of baby ca ca on the 2nd floor 

the young couple that makes out on the 5th floor 

(he heard that she's due soon) 

the burnt hallway of the 6th floor 

and now finally the sweet smell of the rice and peas 

quietly sitting in the pot 

Abuelita greets him at the door 

and the journey is over for the idea 

The poem wrote itself 



Anthony Morales 



19 




Ariel Lambe 



20 



Elegy to Allen Ginsberg 



You said, "The earth is an Indian thing," 

and your rusted rabbi braids, 
rebellious ink and tongue 
— with which you 

capped the world, 
placed a literary yarmulke on the skull of America — 

all the souls and murders 
you breathed 
living in cities, picking up lives on a lost penny 

the communist hands you shook, 

the beads of jazz you smoothed 
and the country- 'tis-of-thee 

you reminded to be wild, 

now you are Indian 
you are Indian 

you are steam in the summer 

you are wingless quills 
you are an Indian thing 
you are Indian 
old man, you are earth. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



21 



Sarah Josselyn 



22 



Shadow Sequestration 



they tell me 
as if 

all plains must be windswept 
as if 

from dawn to dusk 

the sedges, millets, oats, and reeds 

sway and sing 

on the open prairie 

as far as the eye can see. 

How sweet. 

But on my plane 
in the third dimension 
the grass seems silent 
if not 

dead and dry 

while I cannot see 

the mountains or lakes 

only an oppresive sun 

(the rest blocked out 

by looming canyon walls) 

I heard the shadows singing: 

Sculpted sentries 
made from the mix 

of sun and canyon on the scorched earth, 

imagined guards 

of self-made prisons 

holding the followers of ancient ideals. 

and then he asked, 
what happened next? 



23 



I said, 

we sang la Marseillaise 
and heard 

so many French words 
bouncing off cliffsides 
we mistook it for a revolution. 

but then 

I saw the mailman coming 

with the tabloids 

and a letter from my wife 

I saw the county mayor and the county coroner 

walking to the county farm 

I saw Einstein chanting an incantation 

"I saw the best minds of my generation..." 1 

I saw friends, Romans, countrymen, 

uncles, dancers, the FBI, 

I saw neighbors, Martians, the IRS, 

they brought manifestos 

and fresh-grown tomatoes. 

He said, 

you are the victim 

of a shadow sequestration 

or 

you are the harbinger 

of the Earth's resuscitation, 

here, 

take these pills 
and get some sleep. 



Matt O'Brien 
1 from Allen Ginsbergs Howl 



24 



Requiem Imagery 



folks / am tired / of this / so will soon stop 

but first must note 

that midmorning but lamplit blue 

sun 

— would take mineral books, books of gems 
to find a blue like that — 
— a chemical blue like that — 
would take 

a debate to drive to number-lust 
twenty-six volts and a bottle of gin 
a cranial blast 
space 

tired of the chalk dust sunstreams 
which congeal the same 
whether they congeal or not 
on brick wall or not 
more on ice or not 

Alphabetical faith 
would resolve the debate 
of the texture of the sun. 



Kate Zangrilli 



25 



Comissioned 



Belly deep, 
plumb across 

is the best poem ever written 
about rising flood waters; 
commissioned by a third-grade teacher 
in Pontotoc, Mississippi, in the 1940s 
from, among others, 
a new boy who was slow 

The poet was taken out and whipped 



Amy O'Neil 



26 



We Defy Augury 



Dearest Nicholas, 

I love you, I deeply, passionately, uncontrollably love you. I 
love you so much. You are the recurring theme of my life. Again 
and again I see you in my mind, I hear your voice. It's affecting my 
studies somewhat. Did I mention that I love you? 

Hey Nick! 

I know it's only been about three days since I saw you last 
but I just thought I'd drop you a line to see how things were going. 
Nothing much is up here — I just came across a note of yours and 
decided I'd say hi. Hi. How's the weather down in I love you? 

Oops, Freudian slip. Like that joke where a woman goes to 
her psychiatrist and says, 

"Doc, I just made the biggest Freudian slip — I wanted to 
ask my mother to pass the salt but instead I said, 'You dumb bitch, 
you ruined my life.'" 
Well, I thought it was funny. 

Mick, 

You dumb bastard, you ruined my life. 
3K, Nick, 

So when you said "I was looking for you at the dance," and 
ou were looking at me, did you mean that you were looking for me 
t the dance or for the other people in the room, like maybe that 
heap bitch Jenem, Je n'aime, (when she introduced herself I said 
Das" and she said what? And I said forget it) the one with the really 
ion skirt, or was it directed towards me? Because I would like to 
link that it was to me, but I don't want to flatter myself, because 
m sure you could get any girl you wanted, you being perfect and 
1. But is there a chance you were talking to me? That you had 
anted to see me? 

ick, 



27 



If I had been at the dance would you have danced with me: 
Would anything have happened? I was in there for a little while, bui 
it was bad 80s pop and I couldn't deal with all the groping anc 
hormones. I guess I'll never know. 

I could have gotten someone that night, if that were what 
had wanted. But I didn't want to dance with some random rand) 
guy. I knew that if you liked me at all it was for more than jus 
looks, well, obviously, since I don't have any. You know what 
mean. We just had such great conversations, about Chinese wa 
treatises and obfuscation and shari'a. How romantic. Geek love 
For every boy geek there's a girl geek. El Geeko. 
But you weren't a geek — like when Brian threw that wad of paper a 
you while you were talking and you swatted it out of the air wit! 
your pen without even pausing or looking at it. Or that really darl 
garnet tie that looked so crisp against your white shirt and nav] 
blazer. Impeccable. When I looked at our reflections in the win 
dow my face overlapped yours, and the edges blurred. 

Dear Nick, 

I'm not usually this obsessive. It's just that everyone I h 

liked before you had been a "Yes, but " There was always som 

complaint. He's too short. He's not intelligent. That one's no 
interested, and that one talks to imaginary friends. If only he wer 
more intense, if only he were kinder. ... You shattered the buh an< 
if only 's. 

Nick, 

I kept the tea bag from lunch at Capitol Grounds Coffee 
the cinnamon and star anise one you said you liked the smell of. 
couldn't believe it when you came over and talked to me. I won 
dered if the herbs from my herb vinaigrette were perched jauntil 
between my teeth. I was about to ask you to join us, but then I sa^ 
that you were with Kevin and Dave. And I was already eating wit 1 
Jess — I have always sworn that I will never blow off a friend for 
guy. So I laughed and nodded and wondered what to say, and at 
my salad like a demented rabbit between the Seventeen-prescribo 
extended glances and half smiles. I probably looked like I had in( 

~28~ 



gestion. You kept on looking at me. Maybe I did have food be- 
tween my teeth.. I should have asked you to join us and avoided 
the humiliation of that other lunch invitation. 

Dear Nick, 

Has anyone ever told you what a wonderful voice you have? 
Dear Nick, 

I'm really sorry about waking you up that day. You told me 
to call you at noon, but I still feel guilty for waking you up. None 
of us had gotten any sleep that night, I know. I knew you wouldn't 
have wanted to go to lunch with me anyway. You asked me if I'd 
still be there for the meeting at two. Of course, I said. If you hadn't 
had that other meeting would you have gone with me? Be honest. 

Nick, 

I don't know what's wrong with me. I've never been like 
this before. I've never been the type to obsess over guys, to let them 
absorb my life like this. Are you thinking of me right now? Do you 
even remember me at all? Am I just an anecdote now? 

Dear Nick, 

I'll never send any of these letters. You'll never see what a 
Dathetic example of feminism I am. If I were to write you a letter, I 
vould know by you reply — or lack of one — what you really had 
nought. That's why I'm not writing you. I prefer the taste of just- 
riendship garnished with the possibility of love to the porridge of 
10 more than friends. 

"ertainty kills the imagination. I want to treasure the ambiguity of 
>ur weekend because it's the one way I can hold on to it. I wish I 
ould see into your mind, into the future. 

. wish you were here right now, because I have so much to say to 
ou. 



Katherine Gilbert 



29 



Understanding 



I stare down the nose of the dock 
Into the currents eye. 

Released from every pore in Italy, Cairo, Trinidad 
It gathers here at this ceaseless ocean and flies 

Rooting up the wood of the dock and congregating bathers in its path. 
It leaves only the sharp sunlight of the afternoon on the water 
The soft kind that feels warm on the eyelids and then stabs the pupil, the 
cornea. 

Underneath the ocean it is deep and black 

Sea creatures know nothing — they are swept up by a chilling broom and 
carried, soon becoming dead bodies, husks of shell, and iridescent 
skins. 

My childhood bear was forgotten under heaps of clothing and dolls for seve 
years. 

When he finally resurfaced I asked him what it was like. 
Cold, he says, cold and dark. 

At night, I am cold without you. 



Christina Richardson 



30 



hard open surface 



it was a time for a virus, 

I with my flock of orioles 

and you with your petty threats. 

as the boys at the bandstand 
jubilantly cheered the 
official ironmen rally song' in chorus 

we wrinkled our noses 

for experiment only 

and cascaded down the rock face 

into the cold blue pool of disease. 



Zack Waldman 



31 




Katharine Smyth 



32 



Revelations 



My father bought his first boat, a black box, rust and tangled 
netting, when I turned six. Before he had worked with twenty other 
men on a much larger boat, a relic converted once the Navy no 
longer needed it after the Great Patriotic War. He didn't purchase 
the boat in the new sense, but he could letter Vassily Chelovek on 
the cabin. Because he owned the boat, more or less, he could pull 
fish from the nets so we could eat it fresh, instead of shredded up 
from a can. 

Later- I was twelve- the boat he had once worked on, the 
ancient former mine layer, came under his command. Such a large 
boat was rarely run by a man his age- he was thirty-seven. I can't 
recall all the maneuvers and details, but my father had decent stand- 
| ing in the Party, captained well, and knew a few officials. He only 
held his post a short time. A week after the thirtieth anniversary of 
the battle at Stalingrad's end, the boat blew apart as if it had turned 
upon itself responding to the war three decades before. 

That detail I know from the only man who escaped the boat, 
a sailor, Bakhtiar Khosbergenov. Khosbergenov washed up at the 
seawall's end, half drowned, unconscious. When he revived he left 
the hospital almost immediately and enlisted in the army then didn't 
return home for two years. Walking by the water to kill time, I 
oumped into him, nearly tripped over his outstretched foot as he 
;at, facing the ocean, on the seawall. He didn't recognize me. 

"Watch yourself." 

"Sorry." I looked up at him. "Are you Comrade 
Chosbergenov?" 
"Why?" 

"You look like him." 

"I would hope so." 

"So you are?" 

"Yes. Why do you ask?" 

"You survived my father's boat." 

"-Which?" 

"Boat?" 



33 



"No, father. Whose son?" 
"Captain Chelovek." 
"Oh. Why are you here?- Chelovek's kid walking by the wa- 



ter. 



"I do occasionally." 
"Though you remember your father." 
"I don't connect the two, my father and my walk." 
"Never mind. I shouldn't expect you to. You were never or 
the boat." 

I shifted back on my left foot. As we talked I tilted a little tx 
each side. Swaying stiffly. 



Bakhtiar Khosbergenov went back to the army after a montl 
home. He drove a tank in the GDR and liked it there- 1 learned tha 
from his mother, overheard her say it, actually. She wondered hov 
her son could stand the armored rifle division. The tanks stank 
ammonia when they fired their guns. Something in the propella 
she said. She believed the ammonia had crazied him. I listened t< 
her explain that, half speaking, half crying, at Khosbergenov's fu 
neral. He'd shot himself on leave in Riigen, by the Baltic. 



t( 



"Tell me about the boat," I asked Khosbergenov, "when 
sank." 

"What is there that you don't already know?" 

"A great deal. I know that my father left on February seventh 
that's when I saw him last. And I know they found him on th 
tenth. His body was the final one pulled from the water, except fc 
the other man." 

"Comrade Garnikov." 

"Yes?" 

"Comrade Garnikov's body was never recovered." 
"Where's the importance in that?" 
"You want me to explain what happened?" 
"Why." 

"Garnikov matters more than your father. Comrade Chelove 1 
was immaterial." 

"What do you mean?" 



34 



"Just let me tell you what happened without interruptions, 
questions." 
Hne. 

"Good. At 23:00 I was manning the sonar. I had my feet rest- 
ing on the instruments; I leaned back in my chair. The engine room 
technician, Mikail Andreavich, kept a stack of books onboard- he 
read voraciously- and one of his novels had absorbed me. I saw no 
reason to pay any great attention to the sonar. The sea floor, well, I 
expected it to remain mostly flat, that's what our charts stated. And 
we'd filled our hold. We didn't need to grab every pocket of fish 
swimming by. 

In two more hours we planned to dock fifty meters from here. 
Garnikov had the wheel; He probably started his shift just like I 
did- expecting to sit back and waste time. He'd pointed the bow 
back toward Muynak. We were doing, oh, ten, twelve knots- about 
full speed with ten tons of herring on board." 

"What else?" 

"The rest of the story." 

"Go ahead." 

"Hold on a minute. Has anyone come across Garnikov?" He 
turned away from me, toward the water. 
"No." 

Khosbergenov paused. "The boat lurched and snapped me 
Torn my reading. The sonar showed nothing. I placed the book on 
i shelf above the instruments then went upstairs to the cabin and 
Garnikov, who slumped across the wheel. I can't understand why- 
ve had no vodka, and he seemed perfectly healthy. 

A cluster of gauges, those for the boiler, all redlined. The needle 
>n "pressure" had actually broken off- I hadn't believed that could 
lappen. 

The emergency siren's pull, which hung from the ceiling, I 
ipped straight off its hanger. As the others crumbled out of bed 
nd onto the deck, I thought I saw the stern, which housed the 
oiler, expanding. Somebody asked what was going on- I yelled 
|iat the boat was about to explode. 

Comrade Chelovek-" 

"Why do you use his name when you know he's my father?" 



35 



"Because you re his son - I don't enjoy connecting you to him- ] 
call him Comrade Chelovek. 

When he heard me he pushed the lifeboat overboard. Th< 
boat was supposed to inflate when it hit the water, but instead i 
sank before taking a wisp of air. Somebody, maybe even the captain 
yelled to jump overboard. The others all did, and I leapt out th< 
cabin window, at least fifteen meters above the water." 

"Then the boat blew up?" 

"After a few minutes. By the time I heard the explosion I< 
swung pretty far from where I hit the water." 
"And what happened then?" 

"Your father and the other eighteen, I can't know, maybe de 
bris hit them, possibly they just exhausted themselves. 

Garnikov I can be sure about- right where I left him, arm 
splayed across the controls, he exploded with the boat. In the end 
he must have seemed like one of the fish." 

"There's no more about my father?" 

"Why should there be?" 

"He was the captain." 

"When he jumped, he was a bleary, scared man. As much o 
more than the others. Like Garnikov but walking." 
"What about you?" 

"I survived, joined the army after a coma, and somehow woun 
up back here on leave. Nothing's really happened since Februar 
ninth." 

"Would you like dinner?" 

"With you and your family?" 

"My mother and myself." 

"No." He turned back to the water. 

My mother never knew that I talked with Khosbergenov. Sh \ 
didn't discus anything concerning the death. Everything with m; 
father- his things, memories- she bottled. She preserved him in font 
aldehyde. Until she died, you could smell it as soon as you entere 
the house. She stank of formaldehyde. 

As I board a plane in Moscow, these thoughts about rr 

■ 



mother, and Khosbergenov, begin to condense in my mind. They 
crystallize. I saw crystallization demonstrated in Chemistry- very 
simple, beautiful. A teacher dropped this speck into a solution, then 
the speck blew into an increasing crystal, first slowly, then it shot 
outward to fill the entire beaker. My memories of Muynak work 
that same way during the flight. One infinitesimal thought explodes 
out until it engulfs my head, presses on the inside of my skull. 

My last visit was all of two days, when Brehzneyv was in power. 
This time I intend to stay longer; I'm not sure how long, a month 
maybe. I don't have any research pulling me back toward Moscow- 
nobody has any research. I have no reason to leave after a meaning- 
less stay. 

I've spent a week home, staying with Victor Baudtnik, an old 
friend. He works sporadically in the lone remaining cannery- newly 
privatized, he told me, owned my a German. Why anyone would 
buy a fish cannery this far from the ocean, he doesn't know. 

I've decided to find my father's boat, or what's left of it- I 
know the crew's last reported coordinates. Now the wreckage sits 
on dry land. The explosion occured at least thirty kilometers out. 
The Aral, everyone keeps telling me, seemed to shrink daily, until it 
receded completely from Muynak's view. Selling tours of the dry 
ilake bed and renting ATV's, a tourist business has sprung up. It 
ishould be very useful for both of the tourists who enjoy visiting 
dying fishing towns near dry lakes. I plan to rent an ATV from that 
olace tomorrow, even though I've never driven one. They seem the 
)nly possible way to travel across thirty kilometers of dust and gar- 
age. 

At 6:00 on my stay's eighth morning, I rent an ATV then 
>ounce away from the seawall. On it a faded hammer and sickle 
; grudgingly drops chips of paint onto the concrete below. The sea- 
j/all and the docks, surreal relics superimposed on their landscape, 
ist from the ground. The dock pilings, the fallen buoys, rocks and 
ement dirtied by barnacles and dead algae, everything connotes 
'ater, but the sea lies far away. The scene looks to it for completion, 
s Khosbergenov said, the sea floor is mostly flat, a plain inclined 
ownward. I imagine this is what a nuclear bomb leaves behind. I 



37 



designed bombers. 

The things that collect on a lake bottom amaze me. I see the 
expected rusting boats- a few near shore remain anchored. Other, 
stranger things appear, though. I passed a cow's skeleton, bleached 
except where covered by stiff, blackened water plants. Five milej 
out, a car's nose erupts from the ground. In 1992 I read the Bible; 1 
could very easily- it was no longer banned. The Aral reminds me ol 
Revelations. Armageddon will look like this, a yellow desert strewr 
with trash. 

Around 9:00 I reach the boat's final coordinates and see half i 
ship, a prow surrounded by dismembered metal. As I drive close: 
the scraps bar my way, so I get off the ATV and walk. Leaning 
against a rock, the ship's propeller shoots intact toward the sky. Year: 
have polished it, given it a dreary sea/desert patina, but it remains ; 
propeller. That, out of every piece of matter connected to the boat 
survives intact. 

I enter the prow where it split from the rest of the hull- th< 
opening looks like a train tunnel, the roof having a decaying church' 
appearance (or, it looks as I imagine a church must after a decade 
and-a-half submerged). Sun penetrates rusted-through holes, anc 
barbs of light pierce the boat's insides. I feel like I'm in a temple 
Before the revolution I'd secretly read the Koran, bits of the To rah 
and Zen Mind, Beginner s Mind- they were easy books to buy, if yoi 
were determined enough. I look around the ship's rust-metal cavit) 
I stand silently, probably thirty kilometers from people. After a whil 
I sit down on a rock that's poked through the hull. I think. I want 
prayer mat and a place to wash myself. 



Nathan Littlefield 



38 



Checking In 



If you ever pawn your grandmother's hairnet or get knee- 
tired from running away from the hangovers of bad years, if your 
pockets are down to the lint from scraping around for lost luck, you 
might come to the Lamplighter Motel. And if you lose your feet 
when you see the dust on the ashtrays or the scars on the lady check- 
ing out of the room they plan to can you in, you might never come 
in. You might just stand there and have a smoke with the pigeons 
who preach breadcrumbs along the sewers and telephone wires. You 
might look up a flight and down the hall to where I'm still waiting 
for the one who'd turn his arms to me. 

You'd see Alastair there most days, washing his paws with 
the fish and hiss in his spit or sunning the grey in his beard. He can 
watch the stores shed their displays and the shadows grow, but he 
doesn't have anything to look for. I used to look, and every fish 
monger and one-day gambler was my dad coming back. I'd see some 
of me in them, so I'd try blinding one eye or ironing patches on my 
jeans; I'd watch for deals on crutches at the Salvation Army, just in 
case they were really empty of me. But yesterdays would harden in 
the sink. I would have my lids forced open to see that the men's 
oacks were always going to be turned and that their walk would 
)nly take them further from me. I've shut my eyes and forsaken the 
vindow, but most of me won't let go of the sill, even while I seem to 
>e reading the Funnies or grazing on chocolate bars. Alastair knows, 
ie'd never say. The air here doesn't keep secrets and besides, he 
jiows where the tuna cans come from. He doesn't need snickers or 
icknames or spitwads in a straw. He shames with his tail. Even if 
e tied my sneakers to the bed-post or shaved stale curses into my 
air, I'd scratch his ears just as hard and refill his water tin just as 
iuick. If the only heartbeat within corridors of you stretches to the 
Drners of the room to have its belly scratched, you wear away your 
ails trying to keep it there. 

They tell me there were days scotch bottles and pills and 
lilk saucers ago when I wasn't waiting, because my father's arms 
ere here. Those were the days when men didn't need to shave, 



39 



when you could lure in one-eyed trout and half-sunrises with a worrr 
on a hook. Back then, bacon frying in the skillet was meant to fil 
your belly and the arms casting the flame to fry were meant to keef 
you warm. The more I forget my dad, the brighter he gets. Th< 
more often he beat me at checkers and the better his cocktail saua 
stung, the tighter he held me. I think today he'd be enough to shin< 
somebody's shoes. 

This is a place where no one washes the past from his hands 
where the urinals play rummy with the addicts on the third flooi 
Unwoven cobwebs and the dust of feet don't welcome questions 
but I don't have another way to know about him. My dad checke< j 
me in with half-spoken debts and small sympathy that I outgrew a 
the same time my legs fell outside my stroller. Before I took m | 
questions to Frannie, I spent my time between the cigarette butt 
and bounced checks at the front desk, and talked baseball with th 
guests of the spiders who live in the cracks of the walls. Franni 
owns needles in her stare and suspenders to keep her skirt on an 
the deed to the dirt on the floor and the leftovers in the freezer d 
the Lamplighter. She'll always narrow her eyes at me. Pimples an 
sudden inches mean some kind of unholy compact in Frannie's bool 

She told me that my dad took a walk with luck on loan i 
his back pockets and his face turned into a wind that wouldn't 1< 
him look back for me. He went to fight someone else's war. ¥\ 
went with both eyes closed and a new grin tacked over his bean 
He was a man who believed in lucky lures. Frannie chewed tr. ; 
meat of her cheek as she spoke, telling me that God Himself mig 
as well come down the third story elevator and damn her to tr 
basement as let him not come back and pay my bill. She had 1 
breathe a little harder after that, dragging the fire out of half a pac 
and blowing up her gut with the complimentary mints on her des j 
It must be hard to spit out words when you eat nails and the thig 
bones of guests off the end of your cereal spoon every morning. 

Jerry, the cook, burned the toast to tell me. When he wei 
to the bars, my dad was his legend of choice. Jerry saw a man wi j 
holes in his jeans and a whistle for the air and a wink for a preti 
girl, a man who could take good fortune from the squints of on- 
eyed birds who blew by before spring. He told me not to worry, sa: 



40 



that rabbits' feet like that don't run out. I'm not too sure about 
Jerry. My dad wore bigger boots with every round he downed at 
those bars. Jerry can read palms and tell the fortune of a good plate 
of steak and eggs, but I'm not too sure about a wandering man. 

So, maybe one day the reel of smoke from the fat on the 
flame of Jerry's range will pull you in. Alastair may show you his tail 
if you look up to my window. Maybe you'll pity the dust enough to 
come back to see me. I'm not sure you'd want to reopen your eyes to 
take me in. I'm afraid of what you'd see: some kid living out of a 
suitcase, living on leftovers from a can, a kid who takes his advice 
from a torn cat and can only tell his secrets to the echo of his voice, 
a kid you owe for. If the burden of seeing me is too heavy for your 
lids, look out the window to the backs of the men I used to wish 
you were. You can keep your eyes shut as long as you like, but my 
eyes will never be open until I can see you. 



Mary Ziegler 



is 



41 



A Kid s Outline of a Body 



On June 2nd we pulled a body from the South Common 
pool, which had been filled for just a week. After about a month the 
police gave up trying to identify him. 

The pool opened two days ago and fills up every afternoon 
with a sheet of people. When I sit on my chair, if I squint right, they 
look like a microscope image of bacteria on a petri dish. They splash 
in and out of the water without thinking about the body, or at leasi : 
without seeming to. 

Nobody's mentioned it, except for one kid. I caught him stick- 
ing tape on the bottom of the shallow end. 

"What are you doing over there?" 

"Nothing." He stuffed the tape in the back of his shorts. 
"It looked like you had something in your hand." 
He stood chest deep with one had behind him to keep th< 
tape from falling out. 

"It wasn't that thing that just dropped on the bottom?" 
"Nope." 

"Step out of the water for a second." 
"How come?" 
"It'll just take a little bit." 
"You said a second." 
"More or less." 
Hne. 

"So what's that thing that just dropped onto the pavement?' 

"Nothing." 

"Yeah?" 

"It's your mother's phone number. Actually, it's tape." 

"What are you sticking together?" 

"Nothing." 

"Serious?" 

"Yup." 

"Then how come you've got a roll of masking tape that yoi 
tried to stuff down your shorts?" 
"Personal reason." 



42 



"What kind." 

"Mine- you really want to know?" 
"That's why I'm asking you." 

"I was doing something for the guy who drowned. I tried to 
draw him on the pool." 
"Draw?" 

"Like the police. A chalk drawing, but with tape because of 
the water. So everybody'd know he was there." 



Nathan Littlefield 



43 



American Spirit 



My room smells against the law 

My atmosphere of carcinogenic alarm 

I love to feel 
that 

self-deprecation 
that 

self-destruction 
that 

crazy worth thing 
going down my pipes 
as I try to cut the air 
with my breath 
or 

lack thereof 

I love that smell 
of 

hiding rebellion 
or of 

oblivious oblivion 
in gaseous forms 

Caitlin Mulhern 



44 



Lisa Hsu 
45 



Ferry and Me 



It was the 4th of July. I had no use for the holiday then, and 
I don't now. Ferry and I were heading into the city on a bus, just 
like we always did when we wanted to get away. We got off at 
Folsom and strolled around Japantown for awhile, eventually duck- j 
ing our heads into a sushi bar for lunch. Then we split for the ! 
temple on Octavia. 

We had wanted to go to Japantown because it was one of I 
the few places where we could get away from all the hypocritical I 
patriotism and U.S. flags flapping about, flying free in the wind. I 
All those damn crew-cutted marines waving their flags and pro- i 
claiming their faith in the "Yoonahted States of Amaireca" just made 
me sick. 

So we meditated for a bit, and then sauntered back out into J 
the grey day. The sky was pure melancholy, and I had expected rain i 
from the minute I had gotten up that morning. But the clouds had 
held their breath, and we were still dry. 

Me and Ferris stopped into a convenience store to pick up 
some sodas, and then headed back towards the bus stop, where we 
encountered a couple rich-looking guys with laptops. When we sat 
down, they edged further away from us. When we set our ruck- 
sacks down on the bench, they practically melted into the plexiglass. 
Ferry gave up all pretense of politeness and snickered to himself at 
this while I made a valiant attempt to be courteous. I pulled back 
my rucksack and set it on the ground in front of us, but I don't ' 
think they wanted to sit anywhere near us. Some people are afraid: 
of nothing. 

Finally the bus got there and we found a nice quiet place ai 
the back to read. Only there was this crazy old guy who was sitting 
in the seat in front of us and he kept talking a mile-a-minute aboui 
his life. He asked me if I had school. 

"No, school's been out for awhile now," I replied, whicr 
caused him to look first perplexed, then cross, and then downrigh' 
wistful. 

He said "Well, back in my time, we never got a break. Soon: 

46 



finals ended we rushed back to help ma and pa on the farm. Yesiree, 
damn rustic!" And then he'd toss his head back, grab his bottle of 
Jack Daniels, and downed a fifth of it or so in a couple gulps. 

Ferry and I were planning on spending some time on the 
Haight, but it wasn't an area either of us was too familiar with. 
Sure, we'd both been record shopping in Ruff-Trade and Revolver, 
but it wasn't really our home ground or nothing. So we were sitting 
on the bus reading our magazines, and this old guy gettin drunker 
and drunker behind us, and I got to thinking if he had a home. You 
know, if he had a wife, a family, or even a place to sleep, a change of 
clothes, something to eat. That's the one thing that gets me about 
the city; it can be so depressing. 

Finally the driver called out the street and we got off. I took 
one last look at the old guy, and he seemed to wink one old wrinkled 
eye at me through his medicine bottle. That was it. 

We walked around for awhile, just checking out people, 
before finding a Ben & Jerry's. We split a cup of Cherry Garcia and 
then headed up the street to Revolver Records. I can't really explain 
Iwhat goes through my mind every time I go in there. It's a battle, 
really. The real people, the people who know what it's like to live 
out on the streets, or at least have to struggle, and the affluent pretty 
boys in their Tommy Hilfiger shirts and pre-holed Gap jeans. You 
jknow what I mean? I wake up in the morning, I reach into my 
drawer, I grab some clothes, I put them on. I don't give a damn 
jvhat I look like, and that's a mark of pride for me. 

I strolled over to the used records so I could look for an old 
vludhoney album, but there was this chubby kid blocking the Ms 
in a Metallica shirt. I tapped him on the shoulder to get him to 
nove, and he turned around. At first he looked like a frightened 
at, but then he looked over at his friends for support and he got a 
ttle more composed. 

"What the hell do you want?" he asked in a strange voice. I 
late those voices, those prepubescent jock voices. Here's a kid who's 
velve years old, probably still singing alto or soprano, and trying 
» talk like he's Barry White or something. 

"I was just going to ask you to scoot over. I wanted to look 
)ir Suck You Dry" I said coolly. 



47 



"Yeah? Well, too damn bad. You can 't get in here until I 
find my Megadeth album," he replied in that same damn voice. 

I just wanted to punch his stupid metalhead face in. I looked 
over at this big burly guy with a mohawk who was fishing around 
for a No Use For a Name album and he just laughed. 

"What can you do? " he asked. "We're being taken over by 
Generation Prep." 

Apparently, Metallica-boy took offense to this, and turned 
around again like he wanted to fight. I just laughed in his face. 

"You don 't even have a record player, do you? You ve just 
read in RIP or Hit Parader that vinyl s cool, and now you re going 
to go buy some, right? " I asked. 

By this time Ferry had ambled over to see what the commo- 
tion was about. As soon as he came over, Metalhead s friends de- 
cided to join in as well It was hysterical. Prep vs. punk in a storewide 
battle. 

Metalboy backed off of his position and retreated to the 
safety of his friends, where he immediately opened his stupid mouth 
again. "Yeah, what s up now? You wanna fight? " He shook his fist 
at me and revealed a stainless steel Swiss Army knife that couldn 't 
have cost under eighty bucks. I just laughed and stepped into the 
Ms, found my Mudhoney album, and walked to the counter with 
Ferry. We bought the record and then walked out, with the rich 
boy pack following us. 

So we re walking along and we see this guy on the street 
begging for change. He had a spiderweb tattooed on his face. 1 
explained to him about the trouble Ferry and I were in and gave 
him two dollars, and he grinned that homeless grin I love to see. It's\ 
worth the money, you know? Just to see them smile like that. Its 
worth the money. 

I guess he signalled to his friends or something who were 
peddling down the street, because they all started walking up. Pretty ] 
soon it s like a war, with us on one side staring over at these rich i5 
boys, just enjoying the fact that they were getting nervous. Metallica v 
just shrugged nervously, held up his hands, and they all turned 
around. Case closed. 

"Thanks, man. I'm sorry to bother you," said Ferry and \ j ff 



48 



then he gave him some more change. 

"Diggety-dank," the guy replied, and he nodded his grizzled 
old head. 

So we kept on walking down Haight, and finally we came 
to the Haight- Ashbury Music Center.. Cool place. Unfortunately, 
there were some dumb people in there. There was this one kid with 
sorta longish blond hair and a little stud in his right ear. He had on 
some expensive-ass shirt and some cords, and he looked like the 
typical clean-cut sun cat. 

Anyways, this kid just sat around the effects pedals the en- 
tire time, playing the same crappy Smashing Pumpkins riff and act- 
ing like he was all cool. Me and Ferry took up spots right behind 
and kept pacing around to let him know that we were there, but all 
it seemed to do was seem to make him more selfish. 

You know, in Buddhism, the biggest thing is giving. In 
Jodoshinshyu, which is what I am, we give all that we can and it's 
no big thing. The boddhisattva of Jodo Shin's idea is basically "We 
i had dinner and I picked up the tab. Good night", in the words of 
Gary Snyder. That's just how it is. I guess you could say my biggest 
problem is that I think and fully expect everyone else to be that way 
also, and people just aren't. People don't give a damn about anyone 
else or their lives, it's just me, me, me. 

My parents always tell me I'm too cynical. I guess they're 
right; I'm far too caustic for my own good sometimes. I can remem- 
oer when I was interviewing at high schools and all the admissions 
people would always ask for me to give them one word to describe 
nyself, to which I would always respond, "Mordant." Ferry's even 
vorse, though; we're both natural skeptics. 

So anyways, there I was getting bummed about this kid tak- 
ng up all this time, and it's depressing as hell, so I just took a walk 
jver to the drum department. Ferry stayed. Just as I'm getting up 
jolden Boy gets up too, thinking he's cool and all. And Ferris just 
leaks in right behind him and grabs the guitar right before the kid 
ven puts it on the stand. Beautiful. 

"What the hell, man? I wasn't finished!" whined the kid. 
"You looked pretty damn finished to me. Usually when 
>meone gets up and puts something back they're finished," replied 



49 



Ferry as he turned to begin playing. 

"Hell, no. I'm not done. Gimme th' guitar back, man," he 

said. 

Some people are just jerks. Once you learn that fact, you'll 
be fine in life. 

"Too damn bad. Go pretend like you know how to surf or 
somethin'," Ferry said and turned his back. 

I just laughed and laughed. Ferry's sharp as a tack, and 
witty too. 

Haight was kind of making me upset, just one thing after 
another, so I decided that we should go. Ferry and I hopped on a 
bus and were going to head home. It was 6:30 and neither of us 
really wanted to spend any money on food. 

We got on the 39, which takes you to Fisherman's Wharf, 
where you can get a bus going anywhere. 

"How much money you got, Fer? I've got seven bucks n' : 
some change. We better get going sometime soon," I said, rifling 
through my wallet. 

"I can add about fifteen to that. We're fine. There's noej 
right over there. Let's ask him how much to the peninsula," said 
Ferris 

We jogged across a busy street over to this yellow cab. This 
short bald guy with a cigar and these really weird aviator sunglasses 
was sitting in the front seat. He looked dead, but I asked hii 
anyways. I guess we woke him up, 'cause he was kinda ornery when 
he answered. 

"20 dollars to San Mateo. Get in." 

So we did. There's just something about taxi cabs, you know? 
The seats are all ripped up and taped back on, they all smell like 
something unliving was rotting in the trunk, and sometimes you 
get these trippy drivers that just don't make sense. 

So we were driving along the freeway right next to this big 
bus full of tourists taking pictures of us. On the friggin' freeway! 
101 was never so scenic, I joked to Ferry. Alluva sudden, the bui 
swerves into our lane right in front of us. Our guy, completel) 
unfazed, slams hard on the brakes, beats all hell out of his horn and 
jukes the car a lane over. 



50 



"Some people just can't drive. Usually bus drivers are pretty 
good, but..." He trailed off. 

So we drove alongside the bus and he stares in at the driver. 

"Oh, of course. It's some Asian chick. They're the worst. 
First of all, men are just better drivers than women. But even after 
that, y'know, you've got all the different types o' people. Asians are 
the worst. They're a menace. Then there's all those people drivin' 
around with that stupid fish on the back of their car. Those born- 
again, Saint's Alive religious types. You just can't be too careful 
these days," he remarked with not a hint of sarcasm. 

Ferry and I just looked at each other and burst out laugh- 
ing. I don't think either of us really believed what he had just said. 

"Everyone has a right to express their their own opinions," 
I murmured with a smirk. 

"And in some places are even free to exercise that right," 
responded Ferry dryly. 

Next thing I know we've pulled up in front of Ferry's house 
in San Mateo Park. Both sets of our parents were out of town, and 
we were just hanging out at his house. 

We headed upstairs to Ferry's room and ordered a pizza. 
Then we sat around waiting for it, watching TV. Seven thirty is a 
pretty useless time when it comes to TV, so we decided to watch a 
movie. Ferry didn't have much of a selection, but he did have a few 
videos of some concerts he had been to, so we watched those. 

It was only about nine-fifteen or so when we finished our 
Dizza, so we decided to play some music. We went out to the garage 
md jammed on guitars for awhile. Finally, these old people come 
over and knock on the garage door. We opened it up and this 
vrinkled relic starts talking to us. After every fifth word or so she 
lad to keep pushing her glasses up back on her nose, and it started 
jetting annoying. 

"Ah live o'er on Ericson Road, and I gotta tell you, you boys 
ire disturbing mah whole family! I mean, here we are tryin' to have 
| nahse relaxin' chat on the back porch and you're noise is getting all 
|ie way up the hill to us," she complained. 

"Look, ma'am, I'm sorry. We're really not playing loud at 
1, firstly. And secondly, we have a contract with the neighbors 

I 51 



that says we can play until 10:30 every night, which means that we 
still have 45 minutes or so," I answered. 

"What? I beg your pardon, I didn't hear," she croaked. 

"Look, lady. You can't even hear what he's saying from right 
next to you, and yet you can hear through the door and the walls of 
a one hundred percent soundproofed garage several blocks from 
you? I'm not thinking so," bellowed Ferry loudly enough that the 
whole neighborhood could probably hear him. 

The woman got a look of comprehension on her face as she 
finally heard something, but then she got all pissed off and started 
waving her arms like she was trying to fly. Ferry just got up and 
shut the garage door right in her face. He's so irreverent, but it's 
funny as hell sometimes. 

Well, we figured that we had pretty much gotten into enough 
trouble for playing music loud in the garage, so we turned every- 
thing off and headed upstairs with Ferry's acoustic. It was a beauti- 
ful night; the clouds had all shuffled off to bed and left the watch- 
ing moon to smile coyly in the sky. It was far too hot in Ferry'; 
room for comfort so we crawled out his window and onto his roof 
I don't know, maybe it just me, but when you're out above every 
thing else and there's nothing above you but the great black nothing 
and you just get to thinking what and who else is out there... there' 
something magical about roofs. Every time I'm on the roof I fee 
like I've finally finished my climb, to wherever I'm going. 

Of course, such a tranquil night could never last in the craz; 
world we live in, and the Fourth of July fireworks began just as w< 
began to talk. The once peaceful, silent night suddenly explodec 
into a brilliant burst of color, the thunder of the skies distracting u 
from whatever sacred purpose we had intended to accomplish. W 
merely watched for a few minutes, then did our best to drown ou 
the fireworks and return to the serene evening which had so re 
cently blanketed us. 

So we sat around and strummed on the guitar and talked 
until around 2:30. We talked about all that had happened that dai 
and soon we were talking about how depressing everything was an* 
is and — I don't know — there's just something so interesting abou 
those discussions. 



"I know what you're saying. It's just like, we're wired differ- 
ent, man. I can't — we're all in this together, aren't we? I mean, isn't 
everyone after the same thing anyways? We're all in this together, 
aren't we? Hell, we're all the same inside. There'a mushroom in 
Alaska that above ground looks like thousands across several miles, 
but under the ground it's all the same organism. Miles long, y'know?" 
said Ferry in his rambling quickspeak. 

"Definitely. The reason the world's not going anywhere is 
because we just can't recognize the fact that we are all pursuing a 
common goal. Sure, we have our disagreements. That guy in the 
record store was a metalhead and I'm not. But that's insignificant, 
so superficial," I responded in my singsong drawl. 

"And unfortunately, it's those same minor disagreements that 
cause wars, famines, all that stuff. Sometimes I feel like we're the 
only sane people alive," muttered Ferry dejectedly. 

What else was there to say? We scanned the horizon for 
lights, cars, any sign that the world was still alive. Nothing. You 
| can see so much from a rooftop sometimes. Maybe a couple of 
I miles. 

One time I went to the Statue of Liberty and looked out. 
On clear days you can see so far — but for what? What do you see? 
I'm not sure the world is still alive sometimes. If time's all relative, 
then our race has never been on this planet for a few seconds or so. 
And sometimes that makes me think that we're on autopilot, that 
:he body's dead but the severed head still fights for a little while, 
fou know, like how a chicken can run around even after it's decapi- 
tated. 

Ferris and I then crawled back in through the open window 
nd went to sleep with some jazz station on the radio playing softly 
In the corner and keeping itself company. 

he next day we decided to walk downtown to Burlingame and 
j jan Mateo. We got dressed and headed down Santa Inez to El 
f>amino. We stopped off at the gas station 'cause they had a minimart 
id we wanted to eat before we started off anywhere. We payed for 
ur Skittles' and Pepsi's and then we left. Gas stations to me are the 
)itome of all that's wrong with our country. A few overprivileged, 



53 



wealthy, talking suits buy up all the oil that they can and then figure 
they'll cut costs by paying their workers wages that are smaller than 
the bottom line of an eye chart. The places always feel unhealthy to 
me; the smell of gas, the slicks all over the cement gray floors all 
seem to frighten me a little. I was glad as hell when we left the 
station behind. 

We first strolled up El Camino towards Burlingame Avenue. 
I don't know; the place sucks but it's the perfect people watching 
place. All the coolies and toadies who think they're God's gift to 
pop culture stroll down the street and it's the best place to be usu- 
ally when your depressed. 

We walked to Burger King and ordered to go, then found a 
nice bench a little ways up the street to sit down on. The sun was 
shining bright and the motherly arms of a small tree planted behind 
the bench in the concrete kept us shaded. We ate our food and 
watched as group after group of people passed by in their preppy 
clothing, suavely sipping their mocachinolattecappofrappos. Wc 
snickered as one particular hipster seemed to run a hand through 
his grocery store dyed hair every 4 steps. 

-Oh no. Don't look. Do not establish eye contact, grimaced Ferry 
and dropped his head almost into the bag of food. 
-What? Who is it? I don't see, oh. Oh. Aww man, not them. No 
we'll have to have a lengthy conversation about everything undei 
the sun until they'll get bored with us and thankfully leave. I tried 
look pleased to see them, but it was s struggle. 

Erin and Jayla walked up to us twin guns blazing. Th 
removed their identical Marlboro Lights at the same time and of 
fered up a chipper 

-Hi, it's nice to see you! Then they put out their cigs and sat dowi 
on the bench, bookending us. 

-So what's nu? Haveya heard the nu NOFX album? It'] 
prettyfriggencool, said Jayla in her chipmonk(sic)-on-speed voice 
In 8th grade, I had regretfully turned most of our small middl 
school on to SoCal punk rock. I had long since passed through th 
phase and advanced to music that required a little more effort in th 
songwriting. I'm not trying to down punk; For sheer energy, there 
nothing better and I still listen to a lot of punk music, but to liv>j 

■ ; _JI 

54 



and die by music that you don't even have a clue about is just wrong. 
-Yes, we've heard it, Jay. It's okay, I guess, I said, with just a twinge 
of frustration getting through in my voice. I could be nice if I 
wanted, but Ferry would be damned if he was going to just take 
their crap this time. 

-Yeah, it, like, just came out and it's great. There's this one song on 
it, about how Fat Mike used to be homeless? Yeah. And I, like, 
really iDENTify with it, you know? And there's this other song 
about how he's glad that Jerry Garcia died, and I'm just like, right 
on, man. You said it! Erin said in her roller coaster voice. 
-Yeah, whatever, Erin. 'I really iDENTify with him being home- 
less' he said in his best impersonation of her voice. -You've never 
once been in a situation where your wallet hasn't had 50 dollars of 
Daddy's money ready to spend on your new fascination with the 
music of us common people. Any time you ever wanted anything, 
there were daddy and mommy with checkbooks open and mouths 
closed, feeding you Oh, and what else? 'I agree with him. Jerry 
(Garcia SUCKED' (he impersonated her again). Who are you try- 
ing to fool? Neither of us are gonna believe a world of your bull 
anymore. When hippie music was cool you went on and on about 
'Skeletons in the Closet' and how Jerry spoke for you. Now you 
throw him away like you do money! Oh, and just as a point of 
reference, that new NOFX album has been out for 6 months. It 
just hadn't received any radio play until recently. Why don't you go 
Dack home and count your dollar jar? Ferry said, getting so worked 
ap that I rose from his traditional slouchy posture into a rigid, straight 

racked position as he gestured for them to go. 

Right. WhatEVER, mister cool. Let's go Jay, we don't need this! 

^rin whimpered as she got up and sulked off with her punk rock 

thos between her legs. 

That was kinda harsh, Fer, I said, mildly astonished. 

Yeah well, I bet they stop bugging us from now on, he said with a 

learn in his eye and a grin crossing his face like the Great Wall 
. irosses China. 

fio we left our bench, keeping our trash to be recycled later. 
. |7c walked on up the street to Record X-Change, where we en- 

buntered a store full of coolies discussing the upcoming release of 



55 



the new Dishwalla album. I just ignored them. I just felt so sorry 
for them. Ferry and I quickly cased the selection of used CD's until 
we found what we were looking for; a vinyl copy of Big Star's excel- 
lent album, 'Radio City'. We purchased it while all the Dishwalla 
fans laughed at us for buying unhip music. While Ferry bought the 
album I approached the kids behind us. 

-I'm sorry, I must've missed the humor in me buying a Big Star 
album. Could you maybe explain what's so funny? I said convinc- 
ingly. 

-Sure. Maybe it's the fact that Big Star SUCKS! It's too bad that 
you're too mainstream to listen to underground music like Pennywise 
and Sublime, said a fat kid with bleached blonde hair and a Green 
Day shirt on. 

I snickered at him, and then, in between sporadic fits of 
laughter I replied-First of all, I'm sure you've never even heard Big 
Star because they're not played on mainstream radio, which is your 
source for underground bands. Secondly, as far as me being main- 
stream, I saw Sublime at a show that only 50 people attended, 2 or 
3 years ago, when they still WERE an underground band. The very 
fact that morons like you get off on the fact that you think you're 
cool for listening to them means that they ARE mainstream. See 
ya, I said and walked off with Ferry. 

-What's getting into you? You're starting to sound like me! Ferry 
laughed. 

-Sorry, I gues I snapped. 

I could hardly believe it myself. But the more I thought 
about things, the more I realized that we WERE the only sane people. 
The world had gone nuts and Ferry and I were lost out on the river 
in a class five. 

We headed back down Burlingame Ave, turned left on El 
Camino and walked aways down to San Mateo, where we stopped 
into B-Street Music and played guitar for a little. Luckily, we didn't 
have any runs ins to speak of and were actually able to enjoy a little 
bit of our day. 

As we were walking out I got the idea that we should em- 
bark on some kind of journey. Not some religious purging experi- 
ence hero-quest thing, just some sort of trip out doors. Away from 



anything but the great parts of the world — the trees, streams, and 
sky. 

So we hurried home to plan out our trip. But Ferry's re- 
sources on geography were a little bare, so we had to walk several 
miles over to my house and use my atlases and books. 
-Okay. Something within a few days driving distance, all right? No 
further north than Washington, no further south than Tijuana, no 
further East than... 

-All right, I get the point, interrupted Ferry. -So how about we go 
kayaking out in Colorado somewhere? I know it's kind of far, but 
we can strap up the kayaks and drive aways. Ferry turned sixteen 3 
months before and got his license, but neither of us ever cared much 
for driving because of the strain it puts on the environment. 
-Sounds good to me. I've always wanted to see the real Colorado, I 
said as I walked out the door and downstairs to the garage where we 
kept the kayaks. Ferry followed and soon we had both of my kay- 
aks loaded up and tied down on top of Ferry's sport utility truck, 
which had been at my house for days and days just sitting in the 
garage collecting dust. 

We drove to the grocery store and picked up our supplies. 
We planned to go out for 2 weeks. And as we drove off down the 
road, and the memories of the last day and a half left behind us like 
a litterer throwing a wrapper on the street without a twinge, I couldn't 
! help but be glad. 

And as we wound on down the highway and through small 
towns and forests and flats and everything else, I couldn't help but 
realize just how big the world really was. Just how many people 
lived here, on this planet. Under my moon, my sky, my sun, my 
clouds, and yeah we are all human, I think. 

We broke for dinner around 8:30 that night in some fairly 
large town and decided to eat at a diner on the main drag. We 
walked in and sat down in a comfy booth and waited until a middle 
iged woman with her hair and her soul tied back came to take our 
Drder. Her name was Becky. Ferris ordered a ham and cheese sand- 
vich, and I decided on a burger and fries. She shuffled back to the 
utchen with our order and I realized how depressing it must be to 
ive like that. Ferry and I looked directly into each other's eyes and 



57 



we silently vowed to never end up like Becky. I felt so bad I wanted 
to take her with us, away from the diner where she had already 
served up her heart a long, long time ago. 

We ate our food, greasy of course, and then headed back 
onto the freeway for awhile until, around 2 we pulled over onto the 
side of the road and climbed inside the shell over the bed of the 
truck to sleep. It's frightening to me to sleep with such a low ceil- 
ing. I hate feeling my breath lightly reflected back at me. It makes 
me claustrophobic. But then again, so did the town we ate dinner 
in. Ferry and I said our goodnights and headed off to never, never 
land. 



Graham Norwood 



let the good lord do the driving 



... We brought in the New Year 
(you and i) 

breaking glasses, biting lips. 

there was some cake( your skirt hitched up) 

i was screaming for your fingernails. 

& You with your 

shush, dot, shush. 

dot, shush. 

misunderstand me if this is not the case 

But I'm throwing everything 
to the summerstove. 
burn back the truth to them 
or the smoke should suffice. 

ekoms si elbativeni eht esoppus i 
i suppose the inevitable is smoke 



Erik Jungb acker 



59 




Katharine Smyth 



60 



Weaver Voodoo Sabotage 



A brief story in four parts 

Part I: Mathua, New Jersey , is a small, depressed town fif- 
teen or twenty minutes south of Elizabeth. Seven hundred Welsh 
families, fresh from Ellis Island, led by the young Thomas Mathua 
Mining Company overseer, Nathan J. Eurant, founded the town in 
1877 as a coal mining operation for the aforementioned corpora- 
tion. By December, 1879, only twenty families remained, and Mr. 
Eurant had been murdered by his mistress', the late burlesque hall 
attraction Sue Ellen Charles', Pekinese, in what was the most sensa- 
tional and infamous death in New Jersey for at least three weeks. 
Professor Arthur K. Shaon, Jr., noted scholar in the field of non- 
Carnegie fossil fuel magnates of the late nineteenth century, can 
probably best describe the cause of this cataclysm. In his biography, 
T. Mathua, he wrote: 

"Then there was Mathua, New Jersey. This, though it did 
not directly participate in the economic collapse of the Mathua for- 
i tune, along with several other economic misjudgments in the 1870's, 
i contributed to the weakened state which made it vulnerable to the 
final disaster atTrumbell, Montana. The problem with Mathua was 
i relatively uncomplicated. The company invested ten million dol- 
lars to found a coal mine at Milifred's Mount in New Jersey. After 
seven or eight months, it became evident that there was no coal 
whatsoever on the sight. To this day it is unclear why a mine was 
founded at a coal-less site, for it was the first job for its overseer, 
Nathan Eurant, who died before the mine was closed and so never 
had the opportunity to prove himself either genuinely inept or merely 
lacking beginner's luck. Of the twenty families who remained, fif- 
teen were simply too poor to uproot, four were hearty enough to 
iitay behind [and had government jobs — they were the postmaster, 
heriff, justice of the peace, and mayor], and one, a Mr. Jonah Lewell 
as Jonah Llewellyn, of Radnorshire, was too complicated for the 
nan at customs.], stayed on out of a firm belief that there was in- 
leed coal in the mountain." 



Part II: Sterling Lewell, born in 1934, was by now an ex- 
cruciatingly old man. His once thick curls had fled him in such a 
way that they now closely resembled his pubic hairs, and his chin, 
whose cleanness he had once prided himself on, now had the small 
white hairs which every septuagenarian knows are impossible to 
shave. He had never amounted to much except having played Nanki- 
Pu in the Mathua high school's The Mikado; he had never loved but 
once, and he had thrown her away during the Korean War, because 
he believed that the only man worthy of her would be a soldier, 
which his teenage scoliosis prevented him from ever becoming. He 
had been a bright B student in high school, but had taken no col- 
lege, for in 1952 a brand new factory was opened in Mathua, right 
on top of the ruins of Mr. Eurant's office, at the corner of Wickscastk 
and South Main. The Captain Taste TV Dinner Company owned 
the factory, and there the citizens of Mathua would eventually pro- 
duce the what the employment advertisements called the "most est 
sential element of the Modern TV Dinner," the plastic tray. 

Lured by the siren song of the TV dinner, as so many poo 
souls have been since then, he began work as a full-time Assembl; 
Line Operator in mid July, 1952. He was an ALO from that da] 
until January 15, 1969. During that span, he called in sick twice 
both times with a rather mild case of Cholera (as he lived with hi 
mother, one Beatrice Lewell, until 1973, and was obliged to drinl 
and fetch her well water). He crossed the picket line during each c 
the fifteen strikes which hit the plant during this tenure, except fo 
the strike of October 4, 1964, when he failed to cross the line oi 
account only of his Cholera. On that bleak January morning whe 
he lost his job as an ALO, he was promoted to Floor Superviso 
and a hamburger-and-chicken-finger dinner was held in his hone 
at Hanliris, the town's pub, located at Sixth Street and Roth. 

In 1982, the Weaver Chicken Corporation bought up a 
the plants which had once been owned by the Captain Taste Con 
pany, which had been forced to close by the New Jersey state legi 
lature after it had been discovered that they had included rath 
unsavory parts of the cow in their Beef and rather unsavory parts < ! 
the animal kingdom in their Chicken. Lewell was demoted back 
ALO, as his lack of any college experience disqualified him for hoi. 



ing a management position under the Weaver Corp. From 1982 
on, he returned to his post at Processor 37, day in and day out, 
except on Sundays. 

Part III: Early Tuesday morning (or late Monday night, as 
insomniacs, students, and other irrationals know it), Lewell turned 
offhis television set, a 1984 Toshiba, for the final time, and crawled 
into his cot. Though his hands were swaddled by the green sheets, 
they trembled horribly with the night. His mouth opened with a 
dull, piercing silence. He turned and turned and turned and, and, 
and. He pneumatically flew up in bed, his eyes dripping with sweat. 
Lowering his feet to the linoleum floor, he rose and went to the 
kitchen, where he diligently made for himself a bacon sandwich on 
dry white bread. He especially liked the way the soft, greasy bread 
covered the crunchy bacon like an embrace — it comforted him. 

He sat on his countertop, perched like a condor. The sun 
rose only a few hours later, and discovered him bird-like still. Set to 
cry each morning an atonal revelry, his alarm wrenched him from 
his twitchy-pendulum trance. Heavily, yet mechanically he glided 
to his dresser drawer, and drew from it his uniform, which, in addi- 
tion to being uniform with the wardrobes of all other ALO level 
! employees, was also uniform with every uniform he'd worn since 
i the takeover, for Weaver never considered new uniforms. 

Lewell owned no automobile, but since he lived on South 
c Main, a mere ten blocks from the plant, he would simply walk ev- 
;c ery morning. Before leaving his apartment, Lewell grabbed the plastic 
o packet, the domum for the felt-tipped marker set he'd bought for 
tf|his grand-niece, which she had left in the den shortly after he had 
.io: given them. On his way to work, he carried them under his arm, 
^clutching them from all the hands which yearned to snatch them 
rom him. "Greedy hands are everywhere," he self-whispered, "Ex- 
cept on the arms of somebody you want to give to." He eventually 
t ;tuffed the markers into his jacket, which was patched and holed 
|nd had been worn each morning in the fall and winter since he 
,.uad received it as a gift from his sister in 1967. 

Pushing down his punch card (a quaint aspect of the fac- 
. Dry which was never upgraded, tourists still come just to see it), he 
, ittled into his true home, away from the televisions and the beds 



and the sandwiches, Processor 37. Arthritis slowed the levers of 37 
and a cataract in his left eye had permitted some defective contain- 
ers to pass, but Lewell was still generally qualified for his position, 
and so stayed on as a member of the floor crew, even as many his 
age had been "promoted" to the janitorial staff (their union was less 
dynamic than the floor workers', to say the least, and was lenient 
about pensions). Nearing Retirement Age, Lewell had often heard 
the Floor Supervisor discussing his fate (or he presumed it to be his 
fate) with the Factory Manager, a portly, though fastidious man in 
his middle forties. Lewell was leaving in only two or three years, 
and he acknowledged it fully. 

He took the Olive Green marker out of the package and 
drew a strange symbol, a circle with two lines intersecting within it, 
on the carapace of Processor 37. 

Return to work he did. And the following day the same, the 
sweat, the sandwich, the bird, the markers, the punch card, and he 
again worked, that curious little plastic box at his feet. 

He took out the Red marker and drew a different picto- 
gram, a "V" with some dots that made it resemble a rat's head, some 
seven or eight inches from the first. 

Suddenly possessed by a spirit of enthusiasm for his toil, he 
returned to his duties at 37 as if he had never ceased. He worked 
tirelessly, even considering his age, for several hours, until lunch 
time. In the cafeteria, he had a soggy tuna salad sandwich, which 
was cold and moist and flaccid from its overextended period in the 
refrigerator. During his second or third sip of cola, he began to h 
sweat profusely, especially from behind his ears and under his chin, 
and the sweat began to run in rivers and torrents down his face into j 
his shirt and down his straw and into his soda and onto his sand- ; 
wich and onto the table and onto the floor and everywhere and j 
began to cover everything and everything and everything and. 

He grabbed his napkin and swabbed down his forehead. 
Rising quickly, he took his tray to the depository at the southwest 
corner of the room. He discovered that, as he walked, his move- 
ments became exaggerated, as his limbs became much heavier, while 
his strength increased in turn. Each movement became twitch-like 
and excessively powerful. He was like a giant who had suddenly 



found himself imprisoned within a man's body. With all his new 
strength, his body was a trap. He was shackled by chains that were 
invisible to him, but he was powerful enough to throw offhis chains. 
And yet he didn't. Instead he trudged along to the depository, held 
down, held back, drawn by unseen chains that shouldn't bind a 
dwarf. And he was a giant. He was a giant. He had strength. But he 
was in chains. 

His clothing was drenched in sweat as he returned to 37, 
and it stuck to him with the itchy, clingy discomfort of an August 
9 th afternoon. His nose had begun to drip unnoticeably, so he wiped 
it with his shirt sleeve. His hands were heavy and his fingers had 
become swollen and gigantic; it was becoming impossible to con- 
trol those unwieldy digits. Trying to steady himself, he rested them 
on his cold stool which stood just behind 37. He was heaving and 
raining all over everything. God had promised never again to de- 
stroy the earth by water's flood. He had promised. 

Heaving and heaving he glanced his grand-niece's abandoned 
package. It had a yellow exterior that was made of this opaque rub- 
bery plastic and resembled a book cover. Within was a prison, little 
clear-livid-dead plastic cells which bound the mortal capsules of the 
exploding colors, and did their best to constrain the colors them- 
selves; this is impossible, though — color is ephemeral, a ghost in 
i the still living shell: it goes where it desires. 

The colors got up. And walked. They grabbed his hand and 
commanded. His great distended digits were the unwitting pawns 
in the great marker jailbreak. His hands were uncontrollable. They 
were too heavy to move and too powerful to restrain. Color had 
mastered. It had broken the beast, and was riding it gently. Even his 
eyes became heavy, now. His glance bore the full weight of the lion's 
glare. Great armies crumbled to ash at his eye. The whole earth 
began to fall under the great mass of his head. His neck was slowly 
breaking, but the muscles rippled and exploded like a rocket, so his 
head stayed motionless, and no one knew. His mouth froze as his 
masseter muscle rushed out of control. The extremities of his field 
Df vision turned subtly violet. The purple moved inwards, a great 
oackwards explosion, leaving a wake of brown, and then black. Black 
vas encroaching. Consuming everything. Everything. 



65 



"Too Fail," he muttered to himself as he fell into the en- 
croaching darkness, "Two Fail. To Fail. Too Fail. Two Fail. To Fail. 

Too Fail. Two Fail." 

He slept the sleep of a chained monkey, bound by iron teth- 
ers to the cobble-wall. He was imprisoned inside a darkness which 
none of his screaming could pierce. So he slept, not calmly, nor 
restfully, but not lightly— his great heft held him to sleep as it did to 
everything else. As he slept, his muscles slowly relaxed and became 
weak. His masseter was the first to calm, and, within his quiet cara- 
pace of shade, Stirling Lewell, unbeknownst to anyone, smiled a 

real, true smile. 

He was dreaming. Dreaming of the war. All the exercise 
and weights which he had used in an attempt to correct his disfig- 
ured back had helped in his dream, and he was able to enter the 
army. He was standing at the bus stop out of Mathua, carrying a 
small duffel bag with some personal effects within. He didn't know 
what was in the bag as he was dreaming, and what's more, he didn't 
care. The Girl, her name was Mary Collins, was wearing a light 
dress which kept her cool in the hot summer breezes. It was early 
August, he knew. Her bouncing red curls were hidden by a sun 
bonnet of woven straw, which she had purchased at the shore the 
summer before. She had burned easily that time, he recalled, and he 
had had to nurse her, since she could not stand to move for pain. 
He had never burned in his life, and could not imagine at the time 
what it was like to be trapped in one's body without the power to 
move. She had very thin, sickly lips, and gaunt and spindly fingers, 
but her nose was beautiful, and he loved her for it. Her fingers were 
like spider-legs as she ran them through his brown curls, but he 
wasn't repulsed, for he adored her and her nose, and this love over- 
whelmed his disgust for her gangly fingers. 

She was saying goodbye, he imagined, as he went off to war. 
His parents were there, too, but their goodbye had been a perfunc- 
tory one. Not that he didn't love his parents; he did, very much, but 
he desired above all else, to say goodbye to the Girl, while he was on 
his way to boot camp, to let her know that he was a soldier, a hero. 

In the waking world, their parting had been abrupt and 
distant. He had written her a letter after having been declared 4-F, 



66 



on that very evening, in fact, which stated that he must never see 
her again, as he was unworthy of her. He never mentioned his draft 
certification, desiring to keep his shame private. She of course didn't 
believe him, "unworthy of you" is a truly ridiculous excuse, even 
when it's true, and she just assumed that he had fallen in love with 
another woman, or discovered he was gay or something, and as 
such never sought him out. He never learned this, of course. He 
never saw her again. She died of lung cancer in 1982. 

Dreaming. Her hands passed over his scalp, tugging gently 
on his locks. She kissed him, the way she had kissed him on their 
second date: powerfully but without force. While waking, he had 
never told her that he loved her most of all for that kiss. He had 
hoped he wouldn't have to, that she loved him for that same reason, 
that it was telepathic. Dreaming, she knew. Their embrace parted as 
the last recruit before Lewell grabbed him by the shoulder to pull 
him off. He dutifully boarded the bus, but turned to her as the door 
closed. She mouthed to him, "I love you." 

He never killed anyone during the war, never even fired his 
gun. He was killed by a Russian land mine. Blew him to bits. He 
was a Purple Heart hero. 

As he exploded, the dark cage he was enclosed in shattered, 
and he was freed. The light penetrated his eyes first, but in the form 
of white-hot rods which impeded his vision, rather than aid it. It 
was only by the time that his hands had been unchained that his 
vision returned. 

Accustomed to the orange tint of dreams, his eyes were un- 
prepared for the brightness and clarity of fluorescence. As 37 gradu- 
ally came into focus, it was revealed to be nothing but an indeci- 
pherable mesh of scribbling. Glyph had crossed over glyph as he 
;lept, and there was marker everywhere, on 37, on the floor, on his 
ingers, even a little on his nose. "To Fail," he said, and rose, leaving 
he uncapped colors free on the floor. He returned silently to work, 
-ttempting to ignore the glares of all the ALO's on his floor, who 
lad seen him in his fit. 

It was now 2:46. 

By 4:25, the FS had been notified and had made his deci- 
Ston with unusual clarity and speed. He never even called the Fac- 



67 



tory Manager. As Lewell was punching out, the FS served him the 
pink slip and instructed him not to return to the factory the follow- 
ing day. It was an unorthodox job. You're supposed to fire someone 
during the day, by taking them into your office, explaining things 
to them, making it gentle. And your supposed to let them return 
for their personal effects. Heaven only knows why he never fulfilled 
the first, but the second rule was broken because of the unusual 
circumstances surrounding Lewell himself. He had no personal ef- 
fects. He had never had any. 

Lewell passed on that evening, during his sleep. 
Part IV: The marker was scrubbed from 37 that evening by the 
night janitors. The next day, the FS was ordered by the FM to find 
a replacement operator for 37. A woman was hired five days later; 
she was an out-of-towner, as no native would take 37 after what had 
happened to Lewell. 

In her first monthly evaluation, the FS had naught but praise for 
her. He wrote: 

"Assembly Line Operator 37 must be commended on her 
drive, work ethic, and skill. In only one month, she has mastered all 
the facets of he post, one of the more complicated stations along the 
line. In fewer [sic] than a month, she has turned Processor 37 from 
one of the lowest performing to one of the entire highest perform- 
ing in the factory. She has personally doubled the efficiency at Pro- 
cessor 37. Floor Supervisor 4-A's recommendation for Employee oi 
the Month." 



Angus Dwyer 




Ashley Milne 



69 



"Philadelphia, 1832" 



Milksick shook the bones of Mary, 
Ague and chilling stole young Ruth, 
Elizabeth lay down with grippe, 
Anne suffered from corrupted tooth, 
Sarah's belly swelled and burst — 
The doctor never told us why — 
I never walk the graveyard past 
They don't beg me to come and lie. 



Amy O'Neil 



Junk Information 



(to Gertrude, Adlai and the Phillipians, old and new) 

Their accidental marriage, compounded by the final lifting 
of the veil, became the sensation needed for the next day's news. 
Emily's mother called the priest at St. John Fisher's; his (though the 
papers failed to procure particular data, including his name) par- 
ents were said to have called the reverend at St. John Fisher's simul- 
taneously. Allie, who called the stop to her own wedding after walk- 
ing down the aisle with Henry, who was to marry Emily, could not 
stop crying to tell the pressmen who (what, when, where, how, or 
why) she had planned to marry; the Episcopalian church stated No 
Comment, the Catholic church the same, Allies parents angrily 
debated with the caterers, who delivered the cake to the wrong re- 
ception, though they claimed they were half right, right?, about the 
price and the bill Allies parents would not pay, thereby leaving out 
six crucial bricks in the pyramid structure of the newspaper story, 
leaving it, at best, lopsided, and too comical anyway for most of us 
to take as the truth. 

The facts were, as Emily explained later, more absurd than 
invention, were, as Allie explained to Henry later, constructed by 
devices so beyond the touch of human tuning, that she had to sac- 
rifice her own ideals to the higher ideal of perfection. "Yes, it must 
have been meant to be," Henry admitted publicly. "I just wish she 
had been meant to be with me." Most of us who caught the news 
blurb laughed. We simply imagined Emily and him (his name, 
please) in the cab or on the plane to the tropical islands where he 
had planned to take Allie for a honeymoon, introducing themselves 
and other such autobiographical data, blood types. 

Goddamn, you have to understand: it went like this. Rush, 
rush rush, the ironed underwear and getting the nephew the rings, 
:he niece the flower petals, and a tip in advance to the priest's mis- 
:hievous altar boys. By the time he'd lifted the veil, everyone in the 



71 



pews knew that the names were wrong, the families were wrong, 
the religion, forever skewered and incorrect, though the church, the 
families reported, had less than nothing to do with the whole to-do. 
No one could move until after the priest pronounced them man 
and wife, until after they started walking up the aisle and Allie in a 
long white gown ran down the aisle to meet them, wreath of flowers 
falling off her head. They still had one hundred yards to go before 
she would've met them; she turned abruptly, before anyone but the 
photographer noticed her, and ran back outside. After she left, the 
families in the aisles began to shake hands and smile politely. No 
one started asking questions until three weeks later. 

Still, you have to understand; it went like this: When Emily 
exited the church with her hand through his arm, a plane with a 
banner shouting JOY! flown low overhead ticked loudly above, the 
cleanest of all clacking; the summer smoke of sand and sunned con- 
crete was so strong you could taste it when you talked, March snow 
thawing into rivers, winter washed by spring into summer: a three 
season change in one day. He had to kiss her on the steps for the 
warmth of the day and for no other reason, he promised Allie later 
in a letter, for the unexpected and unplanned weather, perfection 
out-impressing the planned; sequined spontaneity a higher law than 
the rings and years, for the necessary sacrifice of the accidental to 
the classical. 

The television documentary ten years later found Allie in 
the abandoned lot, leaning out the trailer door, with Mr. Thompsons 
dog tied to a post outside. The cameramen, who entered through 
the "unlocked" door, filmed wires and switchboards and dials aglow 
with pulsing lights in ordered sequence; reflections sharp as head- 
lights off chrome, cut clay shards indicating organization by color 
code. They cut to a shot of a white carnation on a tin-can coffee 
table; digital programming and computer animation techniques al- 
lowed them to break segments of the documentary with pictures of 
the carnation in stages of dying. Before cutting the tape for com- 
mercials, they showed the carnation on the tin can coffee table, 
subtitled the "Progress of Withering." 



72 



The Answers. 34 / a word with a reasonable addition for inflation. 
-"Thank you. I think they're cool too. Cool color. Comfortable. 
Cheap." 

- "Waiting for my mom." 

- "Out to dinner. McDonalds, I think. But we haven't decided vet 
ror sure. 

- "She's putting on her make up. Inside." 

- "Yeah. Always. Sometimes she puts on too much and looks silly. 
But it's cool. Sometimes it takes her fifteen minutes. She some- 
times has to wash and start all over." 

- "I dont know. I dont have a dad so nope." 

- "I dont know. I dont care. Who cares? We've lived like this all my 
life, why should I have to have a dad." 

More. Same deal. 

- "I am Mr. Thompson. Yes, that is my dog. Here, Huck. Here!" 

- "Allison, she lives right over there, keeps him for me when I go 
out of town." 

- "To visit my wife. I dont think I've seen you before. What are you 
doing here? 

If you're a goddamned reporter I'll slit your goddamned 

throat. 

That piece you did on Allison was awful. My God. Awful. 
What are you going to do? A piece on me because I dont live with 
my wife?. Thats not a question you son-of-a-bitch. Awful. Awful 
awful." 

- "Because she lives with her mother, that's why. Her mother moved 
in - I moved out." 

- "Damn right its normal." 

- "Good. I'm glad you understand. So you only do pieces on stuff 
you dont understand." 

\ "So personal understanding has nothing to do with it." 

- "You know it was bad enough what happened the first time, I 
.mean, when the whole thing happened. Did everyone expect her 
to marry Henry. My God Would you have understood it then?. 
That's not a question either. And with the baby. That was not 



73 



much better. And now this piece you did. Allison's mother, up 
Dermott county, canceled her cable subscription, she was that mad. 
You people arent human are you. Not a question. 

If you are a reporter I will slit your goddamed pig throat. 
What about her little girl. You know her little girl, the one you 
were just talking to, and how mean kids are in middle school." 
-"Km<?«, Huck. Lets go. I'm not going to make more murder and 
mayhem for these ... trash. This trash smells like a bad politician: 

This thing with the camera. Huck." 

Mr. Thompson is seventy-ish, stick-thin, has graying hair. Not 
exactly headline material even for the front page of the Region Section. 
But I got his picture. Looks scary, like a poet, maybe, disgruntled and a 
little batty. Protective of Tate and her daughter (Molly). We could 
make it a suggestive story, weirder than JILTED even. Not a nice man 
at all. Kept saying he's slit my throat. Maybe we should let QTZ 
handle it. It feels like an ethical disaster. I mean I feel bad. I mean, 
dont we have anything else to print. That isn't a question. Sir. 

JILTED flattened the charts into two-bit number stacks, 
matched x for y the ratings of prime-time television. After the se- 
quence aired, the People and Places page of the Post-Tribune quoted 
QTZ-President John Anderson, who used to be Johnny-D, before 
QTZ started to swing upward on all of the graphs we hear about 
but never see, with saying: "QTZ has really hit the jackpot. We've 
really made it big now, really made it big time. This is it. Our cash 
cow. Watch out NBN, CTS. QTZ is up and running now." My 
mother, who taught Johnny-D English in fourth grade at St. John 
Fisher's (Episcopal), folded the paper in two and called his mother. 
My mother placed the paper in the trash. Mrs. Anderson had moved 
to Florida, according to her answering machine. If Mrs. Anderson 
had left a number on the machine, a wire'd run short, cropped the 
end of the recording. Allies mother filed some papers downtown; 
WPTZ recorded CONVERSATIONS WITH JILTED as their "spe- 1 
cial," on the early morning show. When I stopped for gas on the 
way to work, a neighbor pulled over and asked what I was listening 
to on my way to the city. I generally listen to the car: see if its 



making any sounds, if it's choking or wheezing or puffing or just 
rolling nice and easy. He said, turn on WPTZ, you won't want to 
miss this one. So I did. I heard Allies mother sobbing into my 
radio all the way to work. 

My mother called me on my cell-phone in the middle of a 
meeting. I excused myself. "It's Allie," she said. I had expected 
this. I knew QTZ would want to film Allies father flinging himself 
on the casket though he hadn't paid child support when she was 
growing up and never paid for the catering cake from the mistaken 
wedding ten years ago. No doubt QTZ would make a reference to 
burying her in the right cemetery, though St. John Fisher's (Episco- 
palian) and St. John Fisher's (Catholic) cemeteries run across each 
other's properties. "No, dear. She isn't dead. She built this funny- 
looking tower on top of the trailer - threw her food stamps out the 
window in a paper chain - invited the QTZ cameraman in for cof- 
fee and then..." The battery went dead. 

The man Emily married and moved across the country with 
... whose missing name forever: left news stories disfigured and de- 
void of symmetry or science, bent mystery into the articles, severely 
distorted them: the greatest crisis to cross the grey print (rolled, 
snapped flat with a rubber band and rapped down before the door- 
step) since the electronic newspaper ... had eyes the color of shifting 
earth: once green infused with dark topaz: all the moody hues of a 
quiet river running blue in the sun and brown in the shade: never 
one color and never the same color twice in a lifetime. 

With the two children in bed upstairs, Emily crossed the 
living room and slapped him across the jaw. 

He said ouch. Emily sat down and wrung her hands. 

"I think we should have a fight," she said. 

He rubbed his jaw, "Yes, yes, dear, now that you mention it; 
I think we should." 

Emily curved into the lean stroke of his arm. "I just don't 
think we can pull it off." 

"What can we fight about?" 



75 



"And for how long?" 

"For gods sake, Em, not more than a month." 

The Parental Wars began the following Tuesday, at eight am 
sharp. Emily splashed her face, kissed him and darted out the bed- 
room door. The children woke at nine, walked downstairs to the 
kitchen, and found Emily moving back and forth on her chair as if 
with weeping. 

"Whazzup with no school, mum?" 

"You're father and I are having a fight, honey. I couldn't get 
you up." She did not look up. The children exchanged looks, took 
some cookies out of the jar and took a basketball out to the back- 
yard ... played for days without changing their pajamas. 

And so all of the people in the town on the hill rise up / and 
gather outside the trailer door \ in the equalizing black of evening. 
The red glint of occasional lit cigarette tip moves lip high, sways 
downward, a field full of swinging tailless lights. Light from inside 
the trailer falls into the outside. Molly falls into the outside. She 
looks like if she had had a broom she wouldve whisked it, whisked 
them off of the porch that wasnt there as if they were dust that 
wasn't there either. 

"Go away! Go away! My mother is sleeping." 

The cigarettes bend to break with ash. The feet shuffle. 

"I know you. All of you," says Molly. 

Nobody could remember for the reporters' reports what she 
said after that, the words she spent in the night at them, but by the 
end of her hot fast words they had left, one at a time, the oldest 
first, grinding their cigarettes into the dust with their heels, until 
not one was left standing. Molly goes inside and closes the trailer 
door. The light leaps off the pavement as if sucked back into the 
lamp from which it came. No story. No go. Run another Feature. 
What about that boy who fell into the river and drowned. The swim- 
ming champion. Erskine got a good shot of his father flung over the 
casket. Good profile shot. Potential front-page material. 

Love is always a misguided passion. People fall in love misguidedly 



76 



so. Then they need people who are not in love, or not enough in 
love to not reason right, to guide them out of love. Love is like a 
hall of mirrors where everything looks bright and shiny. Love is a 
mighty misguided passion. Anyone who has lots and lots of babies 
is either stupid or misguided, which might amount to the same 
molehill, but might not, depending how you like your words. Mis- 
guided -> you have lots of babies -> you have lots and lots of name- 
less babies. Nameless for two reasons: 

-Because they are babies of a misguided love. 

-Because all the good names are given up to 
the babies born before, first. Belated babies have no names. 
Or they have weird names, like you wouldnt name your cocker- 
spaniel. Dictionary names. Names that sound good: Mike Pike, 
Joe Jello, Daisy Hope. Last names. Phone book names. Ex-boy- 
friend names. As a last resort: deadbeat dad's last name anyway. 
When your daughter is in love with a man, she is devoted to him 
like a dog. That is why she let Johnny-D do the show on her. Well, 
he had good parents. He's the news anchor, and she had gone to 
grammar school with him. He used to stick gum in her hair and we 
would cut it out with scissors when she came home from school. I 
think that if you looked at someone every night on live television 
who used to put gum in your hair, you would fall in love with him 
too. Because it is a misguided passion. You would not fall in love 
with a good man who loved you and wanted to make you decent, 
even if he had nice shoes and good manners. Live television. Imag- 
ine that. 



And imagine it back. Misguided love, and misinformed hate. 
You could say it was a backlash in the winding. Jack and I were listen- 
ing to the police radio channels, the "night cops beat, " [I so named it in 
a poetic mood] when we heard about the gathering - at this point was 
all it was. Jack was just there because he couldnt sleep - it was really my 
watch. So I went. By the time I got there, everyone had gone home. I 
wanted to try the trailer door, but I was scared - news about the old 
man who threatened to slash Jacks throat was spreading just like fire on 
las. 

The newsroom at five in the morning when news is breaking: 



77 



(if it be it the best kind of news: plane wrecks - preferably unexplained, 
the earthquakes and fires and mass suicides) JUST SEND CHOPPER 
THREE. The newsroom when news is breaking is when you blood 
pumps as if with a purpose. Its like waking up in the bed of your 
favorite character on your favorite TV show and looking at your hands 
and seeing their hands. (All hands look almost alike on live television, 
so it must be looking at their face when you stand before their mirror) 
that charms your waking up and pumps at your blood and pumps and 
pumps and pumps. 

The newsroom was wound when I walked back in the door. 
Even Mr. Anderson was awake. Jack had already programmed the 
machine which puts your script on the screen. He said he already knew 
what happened. 

"SEND CHOPPER FOUR!" I advised. 

Chopper Three. Check. Chopper Four. Check. 
Jack started reading, "An unidentified mob attacked the trailer 
of Allison Tate and her daughter Molly early this Tuesday morning with- 
out any stated reasons. The police are searching for motives and the 
perpetrators. Chuck Reed has the story. Chuck?" Jack grinned. Raised 
his eyebrows and grinned some more. 

"Everybody left. There was no one there except Tate and her 
daughter who were in the trailer, I guess. No visible damage. No story. 
No go. Run another Feature. " 

The classical bodies, in classical pose, the bands of gold, 
and red, red rose - Emily and her husband tried to keep the Parental 
Wars continuous, but a midnight snack sneak wrecked their act. 

They had had a fire going and were looking over briefs for a 
case on a broken microwave that had exploded in someone's kitchen. 
The newspapers had run a story Emily called "outrageous" and a 
radio mock followed which surely left the jurors convinced on the 
side of the multi-millionaire microwave company. 

The Questions: at the cost of the cost of printing, add margin for 
profit 

Q; Sir, do you mean that the contraption in the trailer was not there at 
all - that the whole story was invention? 



78 



Q: It was a stove. Mr. Anderson: were there or were there not devices 
for abortions. 
Q: Yes or no, please, Sir. 

Q: Why would you willingly wreck havoc on the community as you 
did? What were your motives. 

Q; What were the blinking lights and communication devices to sym- 
bolize or represent? 

Q: What made you think that anyone would ever believe such an ab- 
surd tale? 



Kate Zangrilli 



Possession 



It wasn't mine so I gave it to you 

you can do what you want with it, you, it 

wasn't mine, I gave it to you, to you 

comes by then sometimes at night 

or calls, brings the construction crews 

and promises, he says he needs measurements, he 

opens my shirt, the cabinets, saying 

different now, picture this in blue, 

and we do it on the floorboards 

It wasn't mine but she took it home and unwrapped 
it, left it on her bathroom ledge, filled the whole 
thing with steam while she soaked and outside New 
York was newsprint and didn't smell like roses, but she 
did, so I gave it to her, to her, it wasn't mine, it wasn't 

comes back with shoes that talk HA HA 
across the floor at me pulling up the boards 
and when I wake I see he has exposed 
the moldings, mouldering, my left breast 
and there's a man I dunno with a drill on 
my back stroking fluid in again and calling me 
"honey" (as if he didn't know my name...) 

I said it wasn't mine but the police didn't believe it, 

all written up in the newspapers, and they brought 

dogs and a stumped lady with the search warrant to knock down 

my bathroom door, but no, I'm soaking with 

the roses, leaving for New York, and she dunno where 

I've left the toenail polish, but I won't let her 

touch it, she rots, she tells them it was mine, and they 

believe her, bring dogs, dogs into the house, I want to kick 

her out, out the dog door, but we don't have one, we don't 



80 



tries to apologize, he brings bandages 

and a pair of pliers, printing embalmed footsteps 

(no shoes! HA HA!) across my floor (all 

gone! HA HA!) where I am standing on nothing now, 

there's nothing now, and I would 

say "bleeding quiedy" the way they always say 

about fish (is it?) and other dumb animals, and 

he is rubbing my back with something, but that 

must not be good for my skin (no... no) see, that's 

not my skin anymore, see, I have become 

something entirely different, become something, 

become something entirely different 

than when you began me 

When you find it, please pick it up, because 

someone must have lost it, must 

wonder where it is, want it back (maybe), just 

don't give it to me, I don't want it and it 

really isn't mine, I promise, and besides 

it cries at night, wants me to rub its back 

and give it hugs and love and care about its 

feelings and its health and no I can't stand it, I 

simply can't stand it, I hate it, I threw it 

out into the street, and it's yours now, if 

you want it, and you must, you must have it, must 

take it, see, take it with you, because I am done, see 

I am done, I am done, I am done, 

I am done with it. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



81 



Nonliteral Death 



She peeked out the window. Four stories up, she wondered what 
the flashing neon red and blue signs were advertising across the 
street. She wished she could read. Then she noticed the sky, a dark 
violent purple, streaked with flimsy yellow clouds. If she had known, 
she would have said: pollution. But she didn't know, and she didn't 
understand why her mother wasn't home yet, and where her father 
had gone. And the frail, delicate child stood, hands resting on the 
window sill. She mused that there was a prince on a shiny brown 
horse with a black diamond on its forehead, waiting for her below. 
She inhaled the air, coughing a moment later. A fly flew onto the 
broken screen, and soon found a crevice to worm through. She 
backed up a little, temporarily frightened, then resumed her posi- 
tion once more. Loud, fat men went in and out by the doors of the 
store across the street,. Occasionally, a tall, prude-looking man 
dressed in a clean grey suit would walk up to the door as well, and at 
these times, the girl squinted to see if any of them were her father. 
But she knew it was no use looking. She remembered her father, 
but she didn't want to remember him that way. He was a tall, thin, 
almost sickly-pale looking man with tousled hair and smelly breath, 
and slurred speech. She remembered hearing sounds of a firm hand 
on a fleshy cheek many a time. Then the fighting stopped, and he 
hadn't come back since. She gazed outside again, awakened from 
her reveries by the fierce blow of horns and expletives outside. She 
thought the sounds queer, but learned them nonetheless, to make 
her mother proud. She glanced at the clock, like her mother always 
did, but she could neither read time, nor knew the significance of 
the hour of the day. So she perked her ears and listened for foot- 
steps nearing the door. Her mother often told her not to look out 
the window. 

"Thah duhty sings out zerr, you haf to be cahful," she would 
say, in her thick accent. If the little girl had known, she would have 
said it was an F.O.B. accent. But she didn't know. 

When she turned four, her mother cried. 

"I didn't wahng us stay heah, you know, fowh ees bery un- 
lucky numbuh, we live on fowh, you now fowh, ees duboh un- j 



lucky, you see?" 

So everything bad that happened after her birthday, the little 
girl blamed on the fact that she had to be four. She tried her best to 
turn five faster, but she soon realized she couldn't hurry this time 
thing. 

Her mother caught the flu twice that winter, and had hay 
fever starting early spring. The mother also somehow caught the 
chicken pox again. She had had it when she was young, in Singapore, 
and she had it again, but worse. The girl attended her and fed her 
strawberry yogurt, watching the red jelly swirl up as she mixed it 
with a spoon, around and around. She had a fancy for mixing 
things. One time she concocted a bathroom-kitchen solution in 
which she mixed a few sprays of Windex, some Toilet Duck, water, 
baking soda, flour, soy sauce, and Pepto Bismol, coming up with an 
orange pasty thing that resembled post-carnival spew in a bucket. 
Her mother flushed it down the toilet and threw away the girl's 
mixing spoon despite frenzied protests. That left them one crooked 
pair of chopsticks and one teaspoon for silverware. For a while, 
they couldn't both have soup at the same time, unless the girl sneaked 
a slurp right off the rim of a cracked bowl. But her mother forbid 
such manners in America, so they took turns. 

And now, she was gazing out the window, wondering if and 
when her mother would return. She used to stay up until her mother 
crept through the door, gently pulling it shut with a soft click. She 
watched, eyes closed as far as they could to pretend as if she were 
sleeping, but wide enough to allow her to see. Her mother would 
always twirl the Venetian blinds closed and gently replace the clear 
plastic stick. The girl thought her mother was very graceful. Ex- 
hausted, the mother would quietly collapse onto the bed, if that 
ever was possible, and fall sound asleep in moments. After a while, 
though, the girl could sleep without her mother there. The noise 
outside no longer troubled her. In fact, she hardly noticed it. She 
used to be afraid of thunder, the way it sounded so ominous. But 
she got over that too. The subway roared and hissed, the rain struck 
tin roofs, and hooting continued just outside, but the girl slept 
through it all. Easy. 

But this time she woke up in the middle of the night. And j : 
quietly as possible, afraid to make the slightest sound even in her 



84 



own home, the girl floated to the side of the window, and very, very 
slowly, twisted the transparent plastic stick to close the blinds. And 
it was then that she realized her mother hadn't been so soft in man- 
ner to avoid waking the girl up, but she had done it out of fear. Just 
like her mother, she slowly replaced the stick so that it hardly swung. 
And creeping down on her knees, her head just above the window 
sill, she pushed the last horizontal row of the blind up, so that she 
could look out and below. She saw nothing, which swelled her 
heart with relief and anticipation all at once. With no sound, and 
no change of expression, tears flowed down her face. And slowly, 
very, very slowly and controlled, she lowered that last blind and 
crawled underneath the bed, curling up, hugging her knees, and 
huddled in the corner, against the cold metal of the bedpost. When 
morning came, she still had not made any noise, unless one detects 
the silence of a disquieting, continuous shiver, or unless one can 
hear sweat trickle down the curve of the body, or the cacophony of 
inaudible horror. She made no voluntary sound through the night, 
when the eerie hush flooded the apartment, until she bravely crawled 
out from under her hiding place and pushed up the shade once 
more at the sound of the shrill wail of police cars and an ambu- 
lance. Only then could the child muster enough courage to stand 
up and walk down four flights of stairs on tiptoe. Once below, she 
didn't let the front door click behind her, but turned the knob, al- 
lowing it to fall into place, and let the knob go. By the time some- 
one noticed her, she was tugging at the shirt of one of the police- 
men, the one she had chosen to trust, the one who most closely 
resembled the prince in her dreams. 

He looked down at her in all her frailty, her nightgown cling- 
ing to her frame from sweat and tears, her dampened hair that stuck 
matted to her forehead, the silent rush of water that streamed like a 
river down her face. 

"Woh duh mama dzji na li?" she asked in Chinese under 
her breath, almost in a whisper. Where's my mother? She gazed at 
the ambulance. Her eyes looked like large black, shiny pearls. 

The cop yelled something she couldn't understand; she ac- 
tually couldn't understand anything, but stared helplessly at the adults 
approaching her. A pretty woman walked up to her and held her 
while she collapsed into her arms. 



85 



"What's your name, honey?" 

With a dazed look, she repeated, "Woh duh mama dzji na 
li?" Is that my mother? she wondered, her mind registering the 
shape of the ambulance. 

For the first time, the girl cried aloud, so hard she couldn't 
breathe anymore and gasps came out in quick, short uncomfortable 
spurts because they had been repressed for so long. Her chin quiv- 
ered uncontrollably and her eyes stung. The lady tried to soothe 
her by patting her back gently and singing softly in her ear. So the 
child fell asleep in the woman's arms, her face red and swollen and 
tear-stained. In her sleep, she saw the scene again. The stealth with 
which she carried herself throughout the night, the stealth in which 
she and her mother had lived all their lives... it all took a toll on 
her. When she woke up in the hospital, she didn't stop shivering 
until the woman came again with extra blankets and some hot 
cocoa and had the girl sit in her lap and sip the warm drink until 
she her lungs worked properly again. In delirious apprehension, 
thoughts raced through the child's mind. She feared the death of 
her mother, but if her mother had died, she would not be in the 
hospital as a patient herself. She feared abandonment, she feared 
the people her mother was forced to associate with, she feared life. 
She feared. 

Hopefully, the girl never noticed, but the woman did: the tremors 
that arrested the child's breath, the sweating. The woman ran for 
help. But the girl's heart shattered within her, and her mind dis- 
persed, and she sank down very slightly, with an uncanny, unnatu- 
ral sitting position. Perhaps it was her icy features or the stony 
manner with which she reposed on the bed, but there wasn't much 
of a difference. And strangely enough, the change was obvious. 

She never showed her ability to hear or think or talk after 
that day. She just stared with her head wanly tilted, resting on her 
pale, thin neck, her huge black pearls for eyes dull and unrespon- 
sive. Then, it didn't matter what had become of her mother be- 
cause no one could even figure out what had become of that soft, 
beautiful child. 



Lisa Hsu 



86 



Fragment of Epic 



The Trickster-King with hair of blond 
And black and red, and eyes of green, 
Many-Bodied, Hid-and-Laughing, 
Cunning-man of Warm Thick Places, 
The bladed-tongued, on eight lean legs 
Did walk the labyrinth hid beneath 
Of room 4-B, underneath of the school. 

...That was what I thought, anyway. 

I was about to tell Kate one day 

but I didn't think she would of wanted 

to hear it because that was the day 

Todd Kellebrew got paddled 

from Old Yeller — that was Mrs. Hesters 

sawed-off oar. Day that happened, 

you didn't talk about anything else. 

Didn't talk much at all, would be best. 

So I guess we just went out to swing that day, 

again. They would have been watching all of us 

careful that day, especially on the swingsets, to make sure 

nobody got way up and jumped off again. 



Amy O'Neil 



87 



Pierette II 



The figure is bent 

at the waist like an angle 

in a geometry book, 

a number can name it. 

Hand to mouth, the fingers, 

drawn thin, 

finish the profile, elongate the chin. 

He bows in loose pants, 

with no palms to touch but 

a small smile, washed in blue. 

Transparent but blue. What a 

color (he speaks in French 

when he does speak). 

The other arm is held 

at a tighter degree, and opposing, 

twisted along his back and held in a fist. 

He reminds me of a hit man 

or of a subservient custom. Careful 

and appropriate, 

and of course in blue. 



This arm, whichever way, 
you see it, crushes the dripping shirt into 
knife pleats. A photograph of just 
this, his back 

makes the hand invisible, palm-tight — 

only, notice the black-and-white folds, 

wrinkled seam, straight shoulders! 

He must have a spine like an arrow. 

And fingers, too, ready to shoot at the bride. 

I could not photograph this watery blue. 

But the hands, one fist, 

one fishy, clammy swimming 

long — that I could do. 



Kate Nesin 
88 



Miriam Berger 



89 



To Conjugate 



I conjugate eyes in all their tenses — blue, green, gray — 
out of yours; or, when you are gone, out of the 
the porcelain knobs on my dresser drawers. 

You conjugate excuses for every lonesome being — he was tired, 
she was hungry, and you were not brought up properly. 

She conjugates French verbs, like a mantra but too complex, 
as she falls asleep: je meurs, tu meurs, ilmeurt, nous mourons, 
et cetera. 

We conjugate the singular into the plural, wait in the rain, 
and say, "Ah! Another...". 

They conjugate the constellations and widen the highways, 
bringing gray into green and twisting time — 
so let them pass you by; get lost under the dust. 



Anne Bourneuf 



90 



The Girl in Black Trousers II 



There is a gold Klimt 
on her wall and there 
my head turns one way, 
my body another. 
What — quite an audience! 

I used to have a farm 

on my bedroom floor, 

some kind of wood and softly 

lacquered paints. 

Flat pigs, flat cows, flat fences 

on green stands, 

also flat and the same thickness. 

They lined the molding 

and fit in every stable crack 

and they made sounds 

from their flat bodies. I knew 

they were wooden. 

I am two-dimensional, 

standing straight up like 

slim branches, pants-legs 

springing to life in black and green 

along an old tree. 

The turned legs face all ways, 

eyes rimming in perfect circles. 

I face two, and only one with each part — 

comparison stops. Though I do 

wear black rather than gold. 



Kate Nesin 



91 



Other Things 



The minutiae already belong to you. Names 
Of restaurants, Mendehlson's string symphonies, dusk. 
It was yours. In those other times, there was the 
Quiet life; shards of lavendar disrupted Tuesday's. 
Landscape's were disposessed, birds flew low and 
Rivers, unmoved, flowed down, ever down. 

Now we fall to the old mistakes; whether green lies 
Outside my voice, whether the print, if you read, 
Would rhyme with fallen stars. In all the canvases 
You saw yellow and hands. I saw rutabagas and farm 
Implements. The paintings are different now; thick 
Swirls of color lie over the original, our original; 
But the pentimento remains. 



Charlie Finch 



92 



Salmon Pink 



I'm wild and bare 
on the windowsill 

The click of imagery 
exposes me 

As I twist and turn 
my nipple existense 
to perfect the pertness 

Wanting to be beautiful 
behind the snow 
as she finds the perfect 
angle to put into eternity 

I love to watch 
her curves 
as she crosses 
to the garbage 
to contemplate 
the powers 
of 

nausea 

And I think to myself 
how wonderful it would be 
to fall in love 
with this guera angel 
standing before me 

this clicking wiccan wonder 



Caitlin Mulhern 



94 



A Dream That the House is Haunted 



The color of your mouth 
is so pretty when you yawn, 
stretched over even teeth 
and a thickish jaw. The color 
accentuates the stretch, 
is accentuated by the stretch. 
That is enough. 

Just when I most want to stay 

I turn to ghostbusting, green light sabers, 

and protecting everyone. 

This place is haunted 

and your mouths are all over — 

no eyes seen — closed. 

You smell like coffee and coconut oil. 
Or perhaps it is the room — 
ghosts carry smells with them in their hands 
after all. 

(I did not know that there was 
oil in a coffee bean) 
Add the milk and sugar. 
It is addictive and also so 
so 

lovely. 



Kate Nesin 



96 



The Humble Adventure or Naivete 



It's just me and my boots 

and those bands of primary colours 

striping across the snow like flags of speed 

I can see, I can move 
the talkative friends at my arms are gone 
separately exploring Saturdays 

Old churches, European laundromats and 
brick sidewalks curved in waves of 
red and dirt 

I can move, I can see 

the matronly scarves that preserved my delicacy 
have unwoven themselves 

caught on the stark limbs of deciduous city trees 

(black throats and arms against so much white) 
dangling there, apart 

lone strands 
separated by the wind that curls across the sky. 



Caitlin Berrigan 



97 




Katharine Smyth 



98 



Storms 



the water surface ripples, the whole light changes." 

John Ashbery-The Skaters 

Before this one, clouds break off in twos and 
Threes. The celestial paradigm again misguides 
Us; allegiances are abandoned; thick eyes ache and 
Close. Meetings end with a quick good-bye. 

A dropped scarf here, a call there. 

The twilight turns autumnal, resigned men 
Drop their pace. In the end, they all walk alone. 
Still, they remember; to before the rain, when 
They didn't need moons and books and fires. 
Lightning forks, thunder dissociates. But they 
Remember other times. Times without abstraction. 
They walk now, as the sky darkens and the rain 
Sofdy begins. 



Charlie Finch 



99 



Rest my dear city 



Before the morning dew 

will settle upon 

the front lawns of projects 

of dead presidents 

The city that never sleeps 

needs to wind down 

The old men in the bodegas 
pull down 

the gates of protection 
colored by the tags 
of disenfranchised youth 
while hearing 

the squeaking crying and complaining 
of the local rat residents 

The pairs of New Balances 

and Reebok Classics 

hanging from the lines 

of communication 

sway in the windy recesses 

and twirl around each other 

pointing to the life of the town 

The women line up 

along the Point 

to hustle their chocha and teta 

merchandise for negotiable prices 

for the lonely men 

whose wives are doing the same 

Freaks come out at night 

-this night marked 

by the orange hue streetlight 

blood red white blue police car siren rays 

fire and sun bulbs of the inferno 



101 



all mirrored in the flowing pool of life 

collected next to Paco 

and the hole in his head 

-a bad drug deal went wrong apparently 

Shiny Lexus ES 300's and Benzos 

with their posh executive owners 

cruise the FDR along with 

the dusty Impala's and dollar cabs 

in order to make their overnight getaway 

from these insomniac streets 

Stray cats and dogs 

meow and bark with joy 

and stroll the night of the sidewalks 

in the shadows 

so their orphaned owners and the ASPCA 
won't crash their party in the alleys 

A lonely front page of the Daily News 
flies across the street 
along with the spirits of those select few 
whose time passed 

and flew into the cushion of the concrete 

(it was a lot more comfortable than their living hell life upright) 

The hum of the underground 6 train 
lets the poet know that 
the city has had its sleep 
but it was only a quick nap 
because here comes 
the punk tax collector 
to cop his Jesus pendant 
loot and I Love NY sweater 



Anthony Morales 



102 



Logo Fancy 



(for the materialistic ones) 

My need to jiggy is unquestioned 

Tommy Hil Nautica Gianni Versace and Donna Karen 

all know my name 

My style is simple 

Rugby (collar up of course) 

my carpenter jeans 

and the construction Tims 

The outer gear apparel is strictly North Face 

for the sub-zero New York nights 

Sure I gotta pay a hundred or more for a shirt 
but so what? 

Yeah I know Mom Dukes is on welfare and my baby needs diapers 
so what she'll pull through like she always has 

So what if I gots no life? 

I didn't ever go to school to learn anyway 

When I roll up in the party 
every chick is up on it 
As soon as those greenish eyes 
of a honey-dip 

sees Tommy Hilfiger emblazoned 

across my bony chest 

all is forgotten about my appearance 

Honey slowly approaches 

switching her Polo hips and showing that fly Nautica chest 
and I flash my decked out superficial smile 
Miss better come correct 



103 



I wants a girl with DK and Diesel 
and the bigger the patch that Ralph Lauren 
puts on her ass the more it looks apple shaped 
Our matching Polo Sport fragrances clash 
and our lips are together in 
unsubstantiated happiness 

Uh-oh 

what the deal with money in the Avirex leather 
that shit must have cost 150 bones 
it £ s on 

I said to myself as I slowly followed him 

on his way to see his mother at the old folks' home 

From behind the car 

I jumped out and said 

A-yo gimme yo' shit I want the leather 

oh you got a link too gimme it 

Can you believe that he tried to run? 

Something in me just snapped 

grabbed my piece in my pants 

and I messed up my new jacket 

with a bullet in the back of the chief's head 

Fuck it 

I sold the holy leather to buy a new pair of jordans 

Now them cats-both the fellaz and ladiez 

in school will be up on it 

with my new shiny bloody kicks 

and the real cruficied Jesus piece across my neck 



Anthony Morales 



104 



St. Brighid s Day 



Blocks, slips, line 
in gray and 

pale yellow butter paint. 
The brush strokes are so clear 
and wide, I can also see 
the sable's back, 

thousands of hairs, heraldic color, 
mourning clothes with carnivorous eyes. 

St. Brighid's crosses, lozenges 
woven in thick and thin straw, 
make wide strokes also, 
against the white wall, sharp shadows 
like stones. 

I will lay out water and salt, 

witty pieces of meat in diamonds on the table. 

"every second day fine 
from my own day onward 
and half of my own day" 

Put away the candlestick and half the candle. Fine, 
it is spring. 



Kate Nesin 



Armwrestling Jesus 



You can see me there, through the hothouse wings of the 
blackflies having a smoke on the ledge. I'm there when you look 
through the window combed with ivy and running rash vines, a 
woman who needs to be watered, the sort who fries your order, the 
one who'd arm wrestle an 

August noon if he'd buy me a beer after I beat him two out of three. 
You could see me there, frozen between familiar stools and dishes of 
margarine and fake sugar and smells of people who aren't coming 
back. But I'd move faster than a hangover to let down the blinds 
before you could. I'm not sure I should take my hands from my face 
anymore. 

I'm an old woman now. The fillings of my teeth don't re- 
flect midday like the nickel tips in my register, and my faces shed 
slower than the days on the calendar over the soda fountain. I'm 
bruised and rotted, the crop of me is dry, and all I can do is wish 
rain. My days know each other better than the bingo tournaments 
and visiting hours of a nursing home. Morning turns me on with 
the kerosene for bacon on my range and the sermons of the People's 
Court, and I end every one in front of a picture of my Lord who 
died for my sins while I wait to die. You couldn't have picked one of 
my days out of a line-up, not until today. 

Maybe she saw me through that window, but she came in 
with the kind of questions that were far past seeing. Sue Leonard 
came through my door, not bothering to wipe her feet, and man- 
aged one of my stools through the runs in her pantyhose and the 
knots in her hair. 

"Hey, Georgia. How's Jesus made the spring for you?" she 
said, handing me a bind of tulips. Sue was one of those girls who 
wouldn't know when she was eight and half months pregnant, who 
picked you flowers without wondering what kept your house or 
who caught the sun for you as it rose. 

"Well enough, Sue. I've got apple strudel in the back, and 
icy Coke. There's always icy Coke," I said, knowing perfectly well 
that she didn't give a goddamn if Jesus had turned me to a sheep 



106 



and sheared me naked for a comforter. And you didn't bring in 
flowers for an icy Coke. 

"No, no. I'm afraid I have a weak stomach. I came to ask 
your help, Georgia. You probably cock your ear worse than flea- 
ridden dogs do. People come to you for fried chicken or extra nap- 
kins. Your cafe doesn't have any airs of a confessional, but I don't 
know what else to do. I remember that when my Mama had a prob- 
lem, she wouldn't hide her purse in the cigarette drawer and her key 
under the mat to elope with some fancy man. She came to see you, 
Georgia. Mama's in her plot now, so I'm letting her memory speak 
for her. Can you help me, please?" 

As Sue's heavy lips fell quiet and her toes through the holes 
in her second-hand flats began to twitch, she undid the knot that 
tied that day to others. She took barber shears to it, made me open 
my eyes to what I'd been. I'd been the midwife to people's troubles, 
cast iron lips until their speaking stopped. I'd been still as the 
principal's office, letting centipedes dance on their shoes and egg 
harden on my frying pan. I'd been the one who took their tomor- 
rows from my oven. 

I was never the sort of girl you took out to the bars. I didn't 
own heels or lipstick, but they pillaged the bakery aisle at the gro- 
cery store for me, or rented me one of those films that made my 
cheeks flush red to even think of, or they scrawled a note on a nap- 
kin and left a beer from the bar I wouldn't go to. My only compan- 
ions were my washing machine and the used car salesman on the 
radio, but I looked at what they left and took my breath from their 
thank yous. It was what I was and all I had, the only roll of the dice 
I'd get, and the more I thought, the less I liked the smell of that roll. 
"Go ahead and tell me, Sue," I began for her. 
"Georgia, my Billy wants to drive a truck. You know what 
happens to boys who drive trucks. There'll be girls who will wear 
their dresses off their shoulders, and he'll want to have tobacco in 
his back pocket for appearances. And he'll actually like the beer. 
He'll spend his allnighters before the fall of a week and he'll never 
stop for a rest or a cold or a mother. What can I say to him? I can't 
tell him he's my baby any more. He unbuttons his shirt two or three 
down to let the hair on his chest show and he wears buckle on his 



107 



belt at least double the size of the largest fish his father ever caught. 
Men step aside for him at the bowling alley and waiters call him sir. 
He's surely not my baby any more. I can't tell him he's the one 
pulling the string to make my next morning come. That's crazy 
talk, and besides, what if love's not enough to keep him?" 

Sue breathed hard, her face flushed like a person who sits 
too much, and waited. What was my advice worth? I'd never had a 
man to shovel my walk or kiss my cheek and end each day at my 
side. There was a legend I'd heard somewhere between the coffee 
and fences of this town, that the drift of birds always leaving just 
above your roof knew where love hid. Cedar waxwings they were 
called, and I never stopped looking up to follow them. I'd even 
gone to Lover's Point and waited with the biting flies outside the 
steamed windows of parked cars for someone to come for me, but 
the stars wouldn't stop mocking me, and all those birds did was shit 
on my windshield. I had no baby, no hair to braid, no birthday 
cakes, no hands to wash before dinner, no one to take some of me 
with them. I had a record in arm wrestling, cracked dishes and the 
love of the Lord. I didn't have a thing. 

"Please, Georgia," she said, her hands pleading. 

"Well," I said, "you have to let him go. You've kept him 
well. He's a clean boy. He holds the door for ladies and his tips 
aren't half bad. He needs what that truck will bring him, and who 
are you to take it from him? You're his mother, but he's got to take 
that truck down the road before he's done, and that road will keep 
returning him to you if you love him enough to let him leave. That's 
better love than keeping him ever was." 

Ten o'clock struck again before she was ready to go. 

"Dear, Georgia. I always thought my mom was wise, but 
she smoked without a filter and she'd go out the front door with 
lipstick on her teeth every now and then. But she was wise, I see, to 
come to you. You should be in the chorus at church, Georgia. God's 
voice shouldn't be kept in by diner doors. Bless you plenty, Geor- 
gia." And as she started her truck, I sat down at my counter to look 
over that roll of the dice that I'd made yesterdays ago. It was empty 
of hands to hold me. There were no tulips left to wilt on the grave I 
would have, and there wasn't anyone to cry over them. But I'd made 



108 



mornings, and thanked or not, those people would remember me. 

I can face the Lord on my bedroom wall now, toe-to-toe, 
and meet His eyes. I'd arm wrestle Him, but I only take a match if 
I have a chance to win, and the Lord's arm is long. So when I forget 
to breathe, and the kerosene on my range blows out, that breath 
will have been enough for Him and enough for me. I've taken my 
hands from my face. 



Mary Ziegler 



Ghostlier Demarcations, 
Keener Sounds 



When the bells on the door have chimed is when I come 
and take what they've left behind. People leave things behind all 
the time, newspapers, snubbed cigarette stubs, ratty wool gloves. I 
like it best when they leave tips. Quarters and crumpled bills that I 
smooth and tuck into my gingham pockets feeling the weight against 
my legs as I walk. People leave arguments, lovers, spilled coffee, 
smeared drugstore lipstick. I come with a dishrag and I wipe it all 
away until the Formica glitters again and I walk back behind the 
counter in my nonsensible shoes. 

Someone left these shoes behind too. Before she left I wore 
good sturdy orthopedic waitress shoes, clunky and dependable like 
linoleum and amber tinted plastic cups. A woman with two men 
giddy with dancing and champagne twinkled in with snowflake shoes 
on pantyhosed legs. I brought them coffee. I inhaled the perfume 
and alcohol and cigarettes and February air that clung to them. I 
didn't say anything. I never do. Customers at 2 A.M. need no 
company but their own, and I'm enough for anyone, including 
myself, and on this shift I see night at its deepest and its weakest. 

She kicked off her shoes and giggled as the men massaged 
her dance-weary feet and admired her jawbone below her diamond 
ear dangles. I brought her a coat hanger for her mink. I hung it 
above them like a nightmare on the coat rack, next to the men's 
wool and satin coats. I watched the snowflakes drown themselves 
in the midnight fur. 

When they had caffeined themselves enough they left, car- 
rying her lolling in their arms like a society Raggedy Ann. They left 
smoldering cigarettes and a wadded bill and her Cinderella shoes. 
And so I kicked off my sensible shoes and slipped hers on. The 
rhinestones sparkled so I scrubbed the formica until it did too to 
the rhumba rhythym of her stiletto heels on linoleum. I piroutted 
back behing the counter, heels chattering like metronomes. 

I used to be a musician, would sit there for hours on the 



110 



glossy bench and play minuets, rondelles, sonatas, bachannelles, 
spilling off the page, spilling off the keys, faster and faster, overtak- 
ing the metronome until my fingers were hummingbirds, were night- 
ingales, and the notes collided and blurred in endless variation and 
then I would slow down and draw the notes out as long and heavy 
as summer until the metronome was exhausted and the notes hung 
in the air like wings vibrating. And so I tapped my fingers in their 
cheap chipped polish across the flecks of mica on the counter to the 
sway of the coat hanger and the click of the mink glitter lady's shoes. 
The counter was my harpsichord, my baby grand and the pad of 
my fingertips on its surface tossed up music into the air and the 
music was mine, and I was making it. Outside the snowflakes were 
falling and glittering too, dancing to the music of my hands unac- 
companied. 



Katherine Gilbert 



You Said It Was About Music 



You said it was all about music, 

And that every girl's face was a sonata 

Made into cheekbone, eyebrow, quick glances, 

And that the rhythm of hers 

Was as complete and abstract as 

The coolest jazz. 

So, suffer in time. 

This pretty conceit of yours... 

Yes, you tied your own cruel irrationality 

To Art (the capitalization is yours, not mine), and through that to 

The Mystery of Existence (again, your capitalization) 

With the same delicate floss 

With which the Christians tied faith to reason. 

(You said that an was transcendent 
Because of its unconscious articulation 
Of a meaning of life; 
Thus, you esteemed poetry above dance.) 

She was your ghost, made visible 

By the accumulation of tones. 

The outline of her body showed through 

The polyphony she wore on summer days. 

Sometimes, she wrote bad poetry, too allusive and dull. 
Other times, she looked through you, 
Straight through you, 

Towards the east and the ocean and the mourning doves and the gray light 

To lean over and whisper in your ear: 

Your philosophy bores me. Cant we talk about something else? 

Because you know you never knew anything about jazz. 



Anne Bourneuf 



Hearing Things 



I was on my bicycle when somewhere 
the world came crashing down 
It must have burst into flame, 
but trapped in time and place 
sounded only like my gears grinding 

On the path a boy yelled 

"Mom my shadows bigger than me!" 

He held to his mothers leg, held to his eternal soul 

The skycap lady at the airport was the devil 
She had 2 inch red claws, translucent eyes, 
evil throat blurts 

I tipped her two dollars and flew away 

tonight was so dead silent you could hear her in California, 
some distant laugh shattered by an owl's indigo moan 

The night the trees exploded I heard 
continents collide- ice on the branches 
reached to the trunks 
In the morning the lawn lay pocked 
with Blue Spruce, White Pine, Red Maple 
amputated limbs on a white tile floor 

The whole world is asleep and raining 

I have a friend I visit, smiles hospitably 
he only knows one song for his mandolin 
and he plays me "simple gifts" 

This week the New York Times Magazine 
held an article by an editor- he hates 
Henry James, Pynchon, Proust 



114 



When he opened Vanity Fair he was 
subdued by the perfume page 
red hot lips on fire 
He dozed off, television buzz 

Squirrels outrun us right down the middle of M-l 19 
because they can't get up the snowbanks 
Last night traffic stopped on State Road- 
giant horses in the headlights, biting the concrete 
their legs & breath a foggy Hemlock stand silhouette 

I've spent entire seasons staring 
at the Islands across the lake 
the large one has two light houses, 
restaurant, jeeps for rent, mini-golf 
The adjacent Isle has a supple cove, 
immaculate stones, foot path- 
there are knee-high houses 
the Indians built to harbor their souls 

The rain off the roof sounds like Art Blakey 
rumble in the mud, pitter-pat 

Stuck in the airport, heard 
the sonic boom of six fighter jets, 
headphones on- it took the tiny men 
exacdy the length of exile on main st.' 
to prepare the plane- 
silver and nickel starcruiser in the grey sky 

the sound of a weeping Gray Owl 



Will Glass 



The Search for Truth 



I want to find the darkness where you can't see me 
Brown owl with the yellow eyes, you don't owe me 
Darkness is clean and loneliness is dark 
Your light is dirty and your vibe is too 

A daily disgrace is what I see 

Each morning you insult yourself 

Assuming upright is for you 

I say peace is deliberation for a pure place 

But the sun will melt your ears. 



Justin Fay 



116 



composing wrong notes 



"in the museum they set up the drums all wrong 
reversed hi-hat and snare" -gaster del sol 

The Ceremony 
was not easy. 

as ushers have cleft this into 

one ring or another, 

and all hours spent 

of purity, of the divine. 

wrong notes everywhere, never finding 

their wrong notes. 

The Ceremony 
was not easy. 

later, and drunk on secrets that 
father passed me, those plastic 
champagnes were everywhere and 
the drummer missed a tap or two, 
but the notes were wrong together. 

The Ceremony 
was not easy. 

the importance of it all (this) is so 
hard to conjure, so sometimes we forget, 
now it is all together though, 
the music is swelling into the mouths 
even notes have found a place 
divided and the same, 
while the wedding yellows 
of age. 



Erik Jungb acker 



117 



My Ancestors 



I do not remember where I was 

— no, that is not right 
I was in one of two places 

Standing over a scaly podium of irrevocable red tiles 
I saw life concentrically evaporating into the hillsides! 

Or it was at a play — an opera 

The seemingly miscast lead actress pleading, 
"Let's break into song" 
And when she sang, so high, so unexpected 
a song my father sang to me when I was young 

I closed up 
and just became 
a ball of salt water 
listening to a sea 
that had no language 

For you see, I saw something else 

It is said you feel in your head, sometimes your heart 

But this I saw in my stern, my central gut 

a tired woman by a stream, not old, but with a face 

and then — not 

it had broken away into wisps of shattered white stufT 
papery yet heavy 
spine-broken on the edges 
She was me 

She had my face! 



Christina Richardson 



118 




Laura Oh 



119 



Dream 



Mom, I had a dream 

That we were outside shoveling snow 

When suddenly you hurled your shovel 

And walked silendy inside 

It felt like getting my nails filed, 

as if the manicurist were delving into the plump static current of my 

throat 

It felt like eating raw oatmeal, 
one indigestible pulp of grass 

I want to know you 

I see and hear you, I am afraid, 

of the numbness beneath my fleshy fingers 

the telegraph line up my spine 

your small stomach 

You are as impossible to touch as diamond glints on snow 



Christina Richardson 



120 




Miriam Berger 



121 



The Finishing School 



So Father, you are sending me to finishing school. 
Good, I would like to be finished. I would like to be whole. 
Make me complete. 
Finish me. 

I walk the lengths of the school's glassy halls 

They reverberate with the murmurs of sad dead girls 

"Finish me." 

Portraits, bereft of experience, stare to the depths of each girlheart 

Unenlightenment crawls the walls, and 

each sheds her skin finding yet another grown underneath 



Christina Richardson 



122 



The Fall 



Perhaps it is no metaphor that you, prodigy 

Gentle Nazi 
with your cartoon profile and crooked glow, 
dropped me on the back of my head when I asked you 
(like a younger sister) 

to swing me 

swing me 

swing me 

and you offered to help me up, your face looking 

down was all I could see 
and I refused, 

struck, 

my head flat and alive, 

preferring to lie like a smitten dog in the middle of the road 

until I could see around me again 
and recover my step on my own. 



Caitlin Berrigan 




Mirv Kim 
Y2A~ 



Night Knelt 



Night knelt as it hushed the din of all those noons, and folded 
down the last corners of the day. It came softly, piping through shirtsleeves 
and buttonholes hung out to dry, and riding the spokes of bikes left on 
their kickstands, speaking in the distant bicker of hammer and nail. It 
came softly, but Candy could hear it sure enough, and couldn't help 
but be quiet as it blew out the last murmur of the day and bid her light 
a match. Elijah sat beside her on the trenches of somebody else's lawn, 
his thumbs fiddling the spines of the grass. His eyes flickered up to the 
blue eye of the flame and then to hers. 

"I could share a milkshake with the stars, you know that, Candy. 
What better a friend than one who's willing to split the night? Thev 
give a light so you can read the north on the compass of your flying 
machine and keep away closet monsters that could wait in the black. 
Who needs parents when you have a friend so far up there, watching 
over you with ember eyes?" He spoke, sighing into the blade of grass 
between his teeth. 

"I always thought the stars were presents, only better than any 
you could bind with ribbons and tin foil. Night came to hide my daddy's 
fists, but I could hear mom crying through that blindfold, and her 
bruises were just as black and blue come morning, and her hands too 
swollen to hold onto mine. It was awful dark," she said, mumbling to 
the ground more than to him. 

"See that star up there, strung crooked between the corner of 
your eye and the edge of the sky? If it ever gets too dark, there I'll be, 
waiting with the engines of my flying machine all ready to take us away 
forever into morning, and to hold onto you as much as you need. I'd 
wait there for you, Candy, no matter how dark it got." 

He finished and she smiled into his shoulder so that he couldn't 
see. She shut her eyes, because it would never be dark again really. And 
she blew out the match. 

Elijah McKay took long strides as a shadow would, stuck some- 
where between floorboards and yesterday, good for nothing but collect- 
ing dust. Someone had struck away his only friend with the match-end 



125 



of a magic wand, and Candy was all eyelid shutters and breath in time 
with the minute hand as she slept, not good for all that much. He had 
no reason to stay and no reason to go away. No one waited at the 
crosswalk of the stars for him, but his pockets were swollen with quar- 
ters and he still had a taste for a watermelon slushie. Summer sweated 
the brow of that night as he walked, so that his bangs melted onto his 
forehead and all the lights on barbecue grills and old ladies' curling 
irons had been flicked off to gag the heat. It was the sort of night when 
you ought to have a slushie, and besides, with the straw making a fence 
between the gap in his teeth and the raw red syrup from the bottom of 
the cup and his throat, he might be real again. 

The parking lot of the gas station was the tail end of a funeral, 
quiet as swallowing your own spit. Anyone with any sense had slept 
away that night, through the sweat on their undershirts and the unholy 
curses of their fans. Or they sat in the dark and spoke to shadows about 
the weather, how it killed grasshoppers and broke the necks of wheat, 
how it scalped drunks and buckled your knees and wet your brow so 
that all you could do was talk about the weather. 

He walked, forgetting to bow to the bell on the gas station 
door, and stood on the bottom shelves of breath fresheners and chew- 
ing tobacco so that his voice would carry over the counter. 

"Excuse me, Mister, but if I were to give you fifty cents, would 
you be willing to give me a watermelon slushie?" he asked the stubble 
on the mans chin. 

The man laughed through the filter of his cigarette, his eyes 
creasing under the brim of his baseball hat. "Sure, kid, and I can give 
you a whole fifty cents back besides." His knuckles hovered over the 
register, dirtier than factory smoke and unshaven old men, and after he 
rang up the order, the handful he gave Elijah was more than just a 
receipt. "Here, kid, have a lottery ticket. Its what keeps me going, better 
than the can opener for my fried beans and the cracked eggs for my 
early-shift yolks. Take this, kid, but don't scratch it all at once. We all 
need a chance at luck once in a while." He winked at Elijah's heels as 
they took him away to his watermelon slushie, past the shelves heavy- 
lidded with magazines that told you where to have your hair done when 
the world ended. 

But pilgrimages had a way of being hacked apart by knights 

126 



with tinfoil swords or by empty gas tanks. His ended in a pair of too 
familiar feet, toes near scuffed away from wandering, the feet of a trav- 
elling man. 

Loves leash hadn't been too short for Aaron. He'd left Elijah 
with drowned waffles in cold syrup and too many slammed doors for 
even the fire department to reopen. He'd left him for a waitress with a 
dirty apron, left him to neck on park benches and howl at the moon, to 
play dolls or house or whatever stupid games girls kept their knees clean 
with. Elijah didn't understand, but he knew that love sewed a thick 
blindfold. 

"How've you been?" Aaron poured into the silence. 

"I've been watching the night dry up into black-eyed flies. Or 
maybe I haven't. No matter about me, Aaron. The moon is ripe and 
they're playing a monster flick at the drive-in. Time sifts quick, Aaron. 
Better go. Love doesn't wait for friendship." Elijah finished empty, the 
line his anger made going slack on the aisle floor. 

"You don't have to tell me, Elijah," Aaron mumbled. "I don't 
know if you can ever forgive all this, or if you should. All I have left to 
know is that you've given up your name and pawned your front door 
to find that place. And I want your hand to be in mine when we come 
there, where morning will be finally warm on our backs and where the 
sun will never stop rising on us." 

"You know, I've heard that you could forgive anyone for a wa- 
termelon slushie, even someone who cracked the wings of your flying 
machine with love, especially if he'd been your only friend, if he were 
your travelling man." Elijah finished and held his knee, held it so tight 
that he could never run away again. So he left with only one water- 
melon slushie, but he figured that the luck in his pocket, better luck 
than any you could scratch away with a penny, was worth fifty cents 
any day. They went back again to greet the road as night fell, walking 
past the light in other people's windows, trailing the heels of night for 
what it owed them. 



Mary Ziegler 



127 




Melissa Bramowitz 



128 



Untouched 



the rebeginnings of birth 

- solvent, as the fixtures of beauty 

your voice to the desert 

evaporates and rains 

in the city 

in her you found 

temporal majesty, temperance, 

a temple — to what rash wind 

that ravished and snapped 

newborn branches 

in succession 

lines, her eyes; her hand, 
extended, the same wrist 
which turns back and forth 
as if to part you, parts me 
in two 

as if for a forgetting 

I am near mulattoed in your mind 
a writing in the sand 
eclipsed by wind 



Kate Zangrilli 



129 



You're too picky 



She is a heartfelt glance 
and in her troubles 

you try to pull her out of a muddy puddle 

maybe a ditch. 

You wake to dreams 

and like moonshine in your eyes 

or the fuzzy glare of a headlight 

her soft walk 

and graceful air pierces you. 
Shepard, dream away 

through the door, you can see the dirty slush 

shoot out from under the tires of an Explorer 

at your jeans 

and a ruined day. 

You're too picky. 

Stop trying to catch fish in trees. 



Lisa Hsu 



130 



These Locusts by Day 



"These locusts by day, these crickets by night 
Are the instrument on which to play 
Of an old and disused ambit of the soul 
Or of a new aspect, bright in discovery-" 

Wallace Stevens-Things of August 

I am no longer interested in the external. 

Interest in something that doesn't exist 

is less than air. As last week, the vernal 

equinox "took no prisoners" and left. A tryst 

took place between the seasons. The verdure 

of spring and summer; the unceremonious murder 

of green in fall and subsequent cold. That 

is what I shall remember of the year. The moon sat 

on the half-frozen lake, dissapeared and returned 

in spring. Was I the perceived? What was discerned? 

The light pulled away. 

Those were other times. 
Now there are no colors, small plants. Unmoved rhymes. 



Charlie Finch 



131 



Nietszche Picking His Nuts While 
Waiting For The Manhattan 
Bound A Train 



Row, row, row your boat 
gently down the stream 
merrily, merrily, merrily, 
life is but a dream 

"The process of cellular isolation is complete. " 

A dream that's just kinda hangin' out there like a powerful one- 
dimensional cosmic string... you know it's out there but them 
supercomputers of human advancement ain't gonna detect them no 
matter what. Wanna know why? Wanna know why? Cuz there just 
be some things out there man. Wild things. Crazy things. Things 
like Zip Coon slashing Jim Crow with a razor forged from the iron 
of irony, while the progressivists turn over in their graves, realizing 
that their mission has reached the point where it has defeated it's 
own purpose. Things like the existentialists cryin' somewhere in 
limbo, cuz it turns out that due to humanity's recent course of events, 
they just may have been right, but they really didn't want to be 
right; everybody wants a purpose. Wild things man, I tell ya; shit 
you couldn't even begin to learn and simultaneously unlearn, much 
less quantify. 

"Very well, obviously we must proceed toward the next logical step of 
nutrient starvation so as to accelerate the cells movement toward a state 
of quiescence. " 

Everybody's dead now, you know. At least all the real ones are; 
vanished into the vacuum created by the lack of what they referred 
to as morals, and ethics... but I don't know what those are... I wasn't 
engineered that way. 

"Have the cells attained a state of quiescence yet? y> 
"Yes, the miotic phases of Gl, S, and G2, were completed approxi- 
mately 2.3 seconds ago. I will now proceed to the transferal of.. " 
"Wait, have you already confirmed that the quiescent cells possess the 
normal amount ofDNA, we dont want to take any chances... " 
"You re right... my apologies... " 



132 



I'm sitting on a bench in the abandoned structure which was once 
the center of activity referred to as Grand Central. This was the 
nucleus of the city. The A train, B, train, C train, D train, F train, 
1 train, 2 train, every fucking train converged at this point. Here 
they collected, here they imploded, where they could all become 
one powerful force due to their great mass and velocity. Here they 
coalesced, and further confirmed the theory in regard to the nature 
of the universe before the Big Bang, that at one point in time, all 
the forces in the universe were one and the same; electromagnetic 
attraction, weak atomic attraction, strong atomic attraction... all the 
Goddamn same. Here they coalesced, and demonstrated that such 
unity is a scientific possibility... that all forces can become one, that 
everything can just get along... 

"Were ready to take the cells out of the embryo now... " 

"Continue... " 

"Done. . . what now?" 

"Pray. " 

"Pray?" 

...Then it occurred, then everything went nuts. Then that naked 
singularity, that tiny itty bitty mathematical point in space and time 
where all our known physical laws break down, exploded. Every- 
thing began to expand, all the forces moved away from the point of 
origin, and their movement changed them, their velocity altered 
their natures. Everything began to evolve. Everything became 
different, and the mistake transpired from the belief that because 
things were different, they weren't interdependent anymore... 

"We have a successful prototype... " 
"Are you sure?" 

"Verification was enacted and has given us 99.99% confirmation in 
respect to the success of our procedures... " 
"Dear God. . . " 
"Who?" 

...That was the error; when everyone believed that they had evolved 
so much. That the explosion had expanded them and will continue 
expanding so that they will get further and further from that naked 
singularity that was a piece of God's will, if not God's will itself. 
They didn't realize that the explosion was simultaneously an implo- 
sion: that the forces expanding from that single mathematical point 
in space and time were also converging toward another single math- 
ematical point in space and time that was a piece of God's will if not 



133 



God's will itself; and from there, they would explode and expand 
again, to converge at another mathematical point... and on... and 
on. This is what the trains did. That is why they were important. 
The subway trains were illustrators of God's will. They moved out, 
converged at Union Square, radiated from Union Square, converged 
at Penn Station, radiated from Penn Station, converged at Grand 
Central, radiated from Grand Central, converged at Union Square, 
radiated from Union Square. ..and on. ..and on: because the indi- 
vidual paths of each train were circular; they repeated this process 
over and over because that is what life is all about... circular motion, 
explosion, implosion... all coalescing to form the complex/simple 
asymptopical equation of life.The asymptote?-none other than the 
undefined function divided by zero that is but one of the infinite 
equations used to express the existence of the Engineer. But I can't 
tell you anything about him. I wasn't engineered that way. He didn't 
engineer me... 

"Mr. President, where exactly does this hostility toward scientific progress 
stem from? We should not be so childish as to discard of something be- 
cause it seems unfamiliar and possibly even dangerous. Good things 
can come out of this scientific success; 

we can clone animals by the dozens to reintroduce endangered species 
into the ecosystem. We can scientifically generate animals which can be 
bred and slaughtered to feed millions of starving people. Hell, we can 
probably rid the world of hunger entirely! Medical science will be revo- 
lutionized! We can clone humans using the techniques of our recent 
successes to create human lab rats! It'll be great! We can experiment on 
these manufactured homo sapiens so as to gain more knowledge and 
insight on the effects of certain radiation and chemicals on human bod- 
les. 

"Wouldn't that hurt them?" 

"Mr. President, who cares! Just slap a patent number and a bar code on 
them and we can make do with them like any other manufactured 
product. There will be medical breakthroughs; kids in high school can 
dissect humans instead of frogs so as to get a better idea of the stuff it 
takes to be a medical practitioner. Hell, if they want, we can give them 
clones of themselves to dissect; it'll be a new way to undergo the process of 
self discovery! We can make clones to serve as soldiers. That way we 
wont have to sacrifice any of our boys in the upcoming nuclear war, 
which you and I both know is gonna happen. So when it does, we send 
them manufactured soldiers to the front lines, and when they get shot 
up, cannon- balled, napalmed, bombed, exposed to radiation and bio- 
chemical weaponry to the point that their balls drop off, they literally 
vomit their own intestines, they turn into vegetables due to the termi- 
nation of proper nerve activity, and their lungs implode, hell, who cares, 

134 



just leave them on the field, and send in a new batch of manufactured 
soldiers to the front lines. Well never lose another war! The United 
States of America, the great red, white and blue, in God we trust.. " 
"Who?" 

"...will become the most powerful nation in the world. Well have an 
unlimited supply of soldiers, policemen, guards, and other components 
of national defense. Then, speaking in terms of a totally different aspect 
of society, prostitution will be revolutionized as well!" 
"Prostitution!?" 

"Sure! I mean, come on, there exists a legislative debate in every state 
which contains a major city as to the legality of the world's oldest profes- 
sion, right? Las Vegas has already gone legal with their whores, right? 
So I say let the federal government make it legal throughout the whole 
nation, because jeez, whether its legal or not, there will always be some- 
body, somewhere, holding a specimen of male genitalia in her left hand, 
and a one hundred dollar bill in their right, right? So make it legal, 
but get this; make it so that all the prostitutes are clones, and make it so 
that the prostitutes are genetically designed so as not to get pregnant, not 
to contract or transmit disease, and so as to be clones of the country's 
most popular super models; Anna Nicole Smith, Halle Berry, Salma 
Hayek, Marilyn Monroe! It'll be great! Me personally, I cant wait till 
they send me my ordered clone of super model Christie Brinkley. Til be 
railing her every night! She's been engineered so as not to have 
children... heh, h eh, forget contraception... and forget marriage... when 
a guy wants his pipes to be cleaned all he's got to do is visit the local 
whorehouse and pick the most beautiful of the genetically engineered 
bunch, it'll be every guy's fantasy come true!" 
"There are serious ethical questions here. " 

...You see, I was engineered by one of the engineers that the Engi- 
neer engineered. They sent me all over the place. World War Three; 
I was there. Now that was a bitch. World War Four; I was there.That 
wasn't so bad; I was used to the napalm and the radiation by then. 
Vietnam; I was there. Vietnam? Yeah, Vietnam! They put me in 
the original device used to experiment with time travel... it worked., 
and of all the places to send me they sent me to fucking 'Nam with 
a bunch of other clones, so that we could try to change the outcome 
of the Bad War. We got our superior, advanced, specialized, red, 
white, and rucking blue asses kicked all over again by those dinks, 
because what happened is we actually went back in time and won 
the war, but then Vietnam, (which in the future, past, present, what- 
ever the hell you wanna call it, is the world's leading superpower) 
developed their own cloning and time travel techniques and sent 
their own clones back into time to mop up the swamps with our 
marine fatigues all over again. I tell ya, when I came back to the 



135 



present, future, past, whatever you wanna call it, I wasn't quite the 
same. 

"As the UN delegate of my nation, I speak on behalf of myself and my 
country when I say that we will not stand by and allow this to happen. " 
"Listen you , just because for once were ahead of your chernoble-fart 
laying ass. . . " 

"This is wrong... you are not creating humans, you are creating the de- 
struction of all society as we know it... " 
"Yeah, you re unstable society, you son of a... " 
"Shut up... you cannot take the place of God... " 
"God is dead, my friend, God is dead. . . " 

...but that doesn't matter now, they're all dead. They're all dead be- 
cause they couldn't exist without the existence of a little something 
they referred to as soul. There was one big soul you see.That soul 
was God.That soul underwent a a Big Bang, and became trillions 
upon trillions of little souls, which reproduced so as to give a little 
piece of their soul to another life form. Then these souls expanded, 
communally getting closer and closer to that asymptote. Then a 
few of these souls fucked up, and tried to become that asymptote, 
which was just Goddamn stupid, because that First Soul was in- 
sulted, and He died. He just collapsed in on himself like a dying 
star. 

Because of that, the amount of soul stretched thinner and 
thinner as the world's population increased, and there was no source 
of soul, because the First Soul was dead, and all the animals by now 
were clones, so their ingestion would not provide one with soul, 
because clones do not have souls. They do not have souls, because 
the Engineer didn't engineer them. An engineer trying to be the 
Engineer engineered them. Man can create a physical embodiment 
of himself. Man can mold the clay. But man cannot give the clay 
soul. Man cannot blow into the clay. Only God, the First Soul, 
was able to give of his breath, and of his soul, because he was the 
only one with the proper training and qualifications to do so. 

So, this dilution of soul became exponentially worse and 
worse as the population increased exponentially; and this occurring 
dilution and God's death manifested itself into a worldwide epi- 
demic. You see, God died like a star; collapsed in on himself so that 
now He is a Black Hole somewhere in the universe with a singular- 
ity at it's center. (This singularity will eventually form the basis for 
the recreation of the universe when it explodes during the block- 
buster sequel The Big Bang 2.) But it must not be forgotten that 
when a star dies, it first turns into a supernova; it expands with 
power, and wrath, and a lot of gas. This supernova manifested itself 



136 



within the fact that sexual reproduction provides the human race 
with an infinite number of genetic combinations; genetic combina- 
tions which occur for the betterment of the race. One of these 
benefits is developing immunity toward disease. However, since a 
good deal of real human males were now railing genetically engi- 
neered whores instead of other reals, this threw off the ability of the 
human race as a whole to fight disease, and when a world wide 
epidemic of AIDSHIVHERPESGONORHEAADIARREAH 
which is an anagram for something I don't remember right now, hit 
the Earth, everyone eventually died. At least all the reals died, for 
this epidemic was a supernova which only latched itself onto those 
with soul. 

So I'm just sitting here on this bench in Grand Central look- 
ing at that clone bum on the other side of the main lobby, sipping a 
Heineken, scratching my nuts. Ain't got no soul. Ain't got no soul. 



Yaqub Prowell 



In the End 



in the car, hit him, hit him 
when I am green like this go 

ghost-girls rising in my mind, pilgrim 
black shoes 

stomping out paper sheaves, a sour 
taste and you 

(you smelled like that, young, once) 
you are sitting there not letting me 
apologize, 

why? 

it never was 

fashionable to carry 

a blood bag, to carry on 

like this, I did, oops, drive fast 

strung out, on pills, cuz I love him 
or something 

that might have just been his friends, dunno 

had cigarettes in a building staggered 
and found pigeons 
wrote pigeons 

out in front of the 7-Eleven, 

with an arrow, remember? 

we must have been waiting for the train 

christ 

or crackers, kids this 

was definitely not a library 

we were shaking the door, m'am 

and it was locked 



138 



yeah yeah it was us, not lost 
we were just 
circling the block. 



Caroline Whitbeck 



139 



140 



u 

O 

a 

O 



Craig Thorn 
Caitlin Berrigan 
Christina Richardson 
Julia Tiernen 
Anthony Morales 
Yaqub Pro well 
Caitlin Mulhern 
Ariel Lambe 
Zack Waldman 
Will Glass 
Caroline Whitbeck 
Mary Ziegler 
Lisu Hsu 
Sarah Josselyn 
Kate Zangrilli 
Katherine Gilbert 
Katharine Smythe 
Erik Jungbacker 
Charlie Finch 
Kate Nesin 
Graham Norwood 
Angus Dwyer 
Ashley Milne 
Emily Ingram 
Mimi Tseng 
Miriam Berger 
Matt O'Brien 
Heather Smith 
Justin Fay 
Miru Kim 
Melissa Bramowitz 
Amy O'Neil 
Anne Bourneuf 
Nathan Littlefield 
Laura Oh